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Five books that will emotionally damage you (in a good way. Maybe.)

Need some help with the #emotionaldamage category of the Summer Reading Challenge? Alternatively, want to break your heart into a million pieces and have them glued back together with tears or gold? Well, you're in the right place!

First, what is it that we like about emotional damage? Or perhaps the better question is, what does #emotionaldamage signify when you're reading a book? For a lot of people, it indicates that they care about the characters and what happens to them, that they're relatable and you're invested. It might be that you're dancing to the skill of the author making you feel exactly what they want you to feel, all the ups and downs. In all cases, I think #emotionaldamage is the best category because it means the story and the characters touched you so much that you felt for them and their story will stay with you for a long, long time. And that's pretty awesome.

Hopefully you'll find something to love (or love to hate) on this page and get that all important emotional damage, and meanwhile, share the book that broke your heart and put you back together again in the comments below!

The Thief's Keeper

A runaway thrall. A "cursed" thief. One last quest for freedom.


In the aftermath of a rebellion against William the Conqueror, northern England lies in ruins, its people scattered and starved.

Aelfric, a 14-year-old thrall, flees from his master and stumbles upon a cache of stolen laundry. The thief? Aliwyn, a girl around his age ostracized for being “cursed.” In her care is a lost toddler she has rescued from the clutch of greedy thrall traders.

Forced to cover each other’s secrets, Aelfric and Aliwyn form an unlikely friendship...and maybe something more. They embark on a perilous journey to reunite the child with his family and seek a cure for Aliwyn’s mysterious condition.

But time is running out. Aelfric’s master is on the hunt, and the shadows of death loom ever closer over Aliwyn. Will they find the courage to press on and defy fate, or will their quest end in capture and ruin?

Immerse yourself in a fast-paced tale of unforeseen twists and heart-stopping challenges. The Thief's Keeper is a thrilling young adult novel that transports you to an alternative medieval world, where Celtic-inspired tribes live alongside the last Vikings. Begin your adventure today!

Grab your copy here!

The Bind of Blood and Bonds

The book that inspired some memes, this is definitely a book that puts you through the wringer. It's book 2 in the series, so sadly you'll have to go through the rollarcoaster of book 1 first, but fear not: grab a free copy of the first arc of the series for the duration of the Summer Reading Challenge.


“Special Forces is harsh. It could be a lot harsher.”

Treason takes many forms. Once trust is broken, it is hard to reforge.

Thorrn discovers this all too clearly, much to his detriment. But someone wants Thorrn dead, and they don’t care how many lives they ruin in the process.

Meanwhile, there is a spate of murders targeting Oberrotian officials, and Thorrn’s contingent is sent to investigate. Back to being the lowest of the low, Thorrn struggles to trust again – especially when he finds two of the most powerful mages in the world working together, and one of them is the woman he loves.

Thorrn doesn't know who he can rely on – be they mages, swordsmen, or kings – but making the wrong choice could spell the end of him, Evyn, and even the kingdom. 

"A damn fine read... Becky James has now officially become one of my auto-buy authors." - The Magic Book Corner

"What are you doing if you aren't reading this goddamn masterpiece." - My Fair Fiction

"It's a world I want to be immersed in a lot longer, and I can't wait to see what else Becky James can come up with!" - Brey's Reviews

This publication contains content including sexual assault, fantasy violence and reference to self harm, suicide and domestic violence. Reader proceed at your own discretion.

Grab your freebie here!

A Tangle of Dreams


“Ollie, do you believe in magic?”

Gemma and Oliver have been best friends their entire lives. But no matter how well Ollie thinks he knows Gemma, there’s one secret standing between them, one secret she swore she’d never tell: magic is real. And she’s waited her whole life to have it.

On their seventeenth birthday, Gemma and her twin brother, Milo, will be Claimed by one of the three branches of magic. Only then will they have access to the power they’ve always seen but been unable to touch.

Gemma’s counting down the days until she becomes one of the Claimed, but she’s torn between wanting her magic and wanting to keep Ollie in her life. This goodbye feels impossible, especially with the way Ollie looks at her when he thinks nobody’s watching.

On the night of the Claiming, Gemma is taken over by a strange power that no one understands, leaving her reeling in the aftermath. That night, Ollie’s caught up in a world he never knew existed as he finally learns the truth behind the lies.

Gemma and Ollie discover a magic made from buried secrets and a history long forgotten. Together, they must unravel the mystery that surrounds them and their families before fate claims them for its own.

Does Ollie believe in magic? He’s about to.

Grab your copy here!

The Court of Silver Flames

Bringing important context to a character can be fuel for #emotionaldamage, as understanding why they are the way they are can be super powerful.


Nesta Archeron has always been prickly-proud, swift to anger, and slow to forgive. And ever since being forced into the Cauldron and becoming High Fae against her will, she's struggled to find a place for herself within the strange, deadly world she inhabits. Worse, she can't seem to move past the horrors of the war with Hybern and all she lost in it.

The one person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred warrior whose position in Rhysand and Feyre's Night Court keeps him constantly in Nesta's orbit. But her temper isn't the only thing Cassian ignites. The fire between them is undeniable and only burns hotter as they are forced into close quarters with each other.

Meanwhile, the treacherous human queens who returned to the Continent during the last war have forged a dangerous new alliance, threatening the fragile peace that has settled over the realms. And the key to halting them might very well rely on Cassian and Nesta facing their haunting pasts.

Against the sweeping backdrop of a world seared by war and plagued with uncertainty, Nesta and Cassian battle monsters from within and without as they search for acceptance - and healing - in each other's arms.

Grab your copy here!


Yet another mid-series offering (perhaps because we feel more for characters we've known for longer?)


I thought I hated not fitting in. Turns out I hate having a target on my back even more.

Someone wants me taken out. To accomplish that, they leaked the secret of my magic to all the Packs in the Midwest. Now, almost every Alpha in the region has traveled to my hometown in hopes of convincing me to join their Pack.

And some of them don’t seem to think I should have a choice.

Grab your copy here!

So, which ones are you adding to your TBR? Tell me your #emotionaldamage book and why below!


This article was written by Becky James, currently running a Kickstarter for Bea Tama - support a sci-fi romance that's"out of this world" today!

Becky James is the author of The King's Swordsman series and the Dark Tides series. Based in the UK, she has a deep love of the British countryside, canals, and all things fantasy; she devours anything that has magic, swords, good friends and good ti

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Thank you so much for featuring The Thief's Keeper!!


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