Blog Tours Book Reviews

Empress & Aniya by Candice Carty-Williams

A lovely book that will lift you right out of a winter slump

My first blog tour of 2022, and first actual post of 2022 (v unimpressive considering it’s February). I had to tap out for a while because of general social media fatigue and because although on the one hand you can never get enough books, on the other hand when your job is books, your main hobby is books, and almost every segment of your social media is books … after a certain point it feels like you’re about to turn into one. 

However, I adore Candice Carty-Williams’ work and so the opportunity to read and review her first YA novel was a very good reason to jump back into book insta/twitter/etc. The book is ‘South London’s answer to Freaky Friday’, and it revolves around the friendship of two 15-year-old girls, Empress & Aniya, who accidentally cast a spell on their 16th birthday and end up switching bodies. 

To start with, how gorgeous is the cover?! This is definitely a book you’ll want to display on your bookcase – it’s so pretty and compact and well-made, I was obsessed immediately. 

Thematically, the book is a little darker than the description makes out – it touches on issues around class, abuse, neglect, difficult family relationships. But the themes are explored with a light touch, and I would actually say that the book would perhaps be more suited to readers around 11-13 rather than 13+. The book’s main focus is Empress and Aniya’s friendship, and its vibe is wholesome and heartwarming rather than Jacqueline Wilson levels of dark. 

My only issue with it is that it felt a too short. Many of the issues were resolved a little too quickly and I would have enjoyed a slightly slower pace, with time to delve further into the very relevant issues and explore each scene and character in more depth. 

Overall, it’s a very touching novel with lots of heart. I loved the friendship between Empress and Aniya, and the themes are interesting and pertinent. A lovely book that will lift you right out of a winter slump.


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