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The Gods smiled upon their offsprings from the skies, loving, generous. But that was before. For the sky is now tainted, and the people deprived of their creators overnight have been orphans for nearly two centuries. Since that fateful day, the Corruption has reigned over the world. It defiled the clouds, covered the lands with a veil of darkness. The first conflicts arose The Gods smiled upon their offsprings from the skies, loving, generous. But that was before. For the sky is now tainted, and the people deprived of their creators overnight have been orphans for nearly two centuries. Since that fateful day, the Corruption has reigned over the world. It defiled the clouds, covered the lands with a veil of darkness. The first conflicts arose in the east of the Coroman continent, some under the impulse of beliefs calling for blood and flames. As hatred continues to spread, the vanished Gods no longer answering any prayers, some fight for a peaceful life. In the midst of this madness, two children meet each other. One of them is human. The other is nichan. The boys are two opposite minds and fates, yet connected irrevocably. The days, then the passing years bring them together. But life reminds them of their differences and works to crush the remnants of their innocence. Between joys and sorrows, friendship and savagery, a smile is sometimes enough to change everything… Trigger Warning: this novel contains graphic violence, violence against children and animals, explicit sexual content (including sexual violence and underage sex), and explicit language. Reader discretion is advised.


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The Gods smiled upon their offsprings from the skies, loving, generous. But that was before. For the sky is now tainted, and the people deprived of their creators overnight have been orphans for nearly two centuries. Since that fateful day, the Corruption has reigned over the world. It defiled the clouds, covered the lands with a veil of darkness. The first conflicts arose The Gods smiled upon their offsprings from the skies, loving, generous. But that was before. For the sky is now tainted, and the people deprived of their creators overnight have been orphans for nearly two centuries. Since that fateful day, the Corruption has reigned over the world. It defiled the clouds, covered the lands with a veil of darkness. The first conflicts arose in the east of the Coroman continent, some under the impulse of beliefs calling for blood and flames. As hatred continues to spread, the vanished Gods no longer answering any prayers, some fight for a peaceful life. In the midst of this madness, two children meet each other. One of them is human. The other is nichan. The boys are two opposite minds and fates, yet connected irrevocably. The days, then the passing years bring them together. But life reminds them of their differences and works to crush the remnants of their innocence. Between joys and sorrows, friendship and savagery, a smile is sometimes enough to change everything… Trigger Warning: this novel contains graphic violence, violence against children and animals, explicit sexual content (including sexual violence and underage sex), and explicit language. Reader discretion is advised.

30 review for The Nichan Smile

  1. 5 out of 5

    Valkyrie ✨

    Trigger warnings and the reason why I rated this book so low: dub/non-con sex between adults and minors, and graphic depiction of a sexual assault to a minor. ~ I heard C.J. Merwild is French, which makes the fact that she wrote a book in English very impressive. That being said, this book is in desperate need of a better editor. There were a lot of typos, grammatical mistakes and weird wording. You could tell the author wasn’t native and the story suffered greatly from it. Writing aside, there was Trigger warnings and the reason why I rated this book so low: dub/non-con sex between adults and minors, and graphic depiction of a sexual assault to a minor. ~ I heard C.J. Merwild is French, which makes the fact that she wrote a book in English very impressive. That being said, this book is in desperate need of a better editor. There were a lot of typos, grammatical mistakes and weird wording. You could tell the author wasn’t native and the story suffered greatly from it. Writing aside, there wasn’t much of a plot. This is more of a romance fantasy book, heavily focused on the romance. The poor world building in the background made no sense, with many scenes of info dumping that led nowhere. There were a lot of different ideas that never got fully developed. Reading about characters who refused to act or change out of pure stubbornness and nonsense was frustrating to say the least. I could’ve overlooked all this in favor of the romance. The beginning of the story was promising enough that I thought I had found a possible new favorite. Then, Merwild made some plot choices that left me quite disturbed. Some spoilers ahead, consider these a ⚠️ warning ⚠️ before you decide to read: The first thing that crossed a line for me was the fact that a 30-something year old female character propositioned to Domino when he was 13. She was taking care of some kids when it happened. She was even carrying a baby in that moment. The idea of a pedophile in charge of little kids made me sick. To make things worse, later on she had sex with him when Domino was 16 and under the influence of what we know as “going into heat” in the A/B/O fanfic world. So the consent was dubious at best to being with. Merwild decided to go even further though and the female character tried to force the teenager to keep going once Domino wanted to stop. It left me feeling very uncomfortable. And I still don’t see the relevance to the plot. Do all Nichan rape underage members of their communities? Or was that only this woman? It’s never explained. And it didn’t add anything to the plot. Merwild made a conscious decision here that didn’t sit well with me at all. The obvious misogyny in the lack of female characters and how the few existing ones were treated is sadly too common in m/m romance written by women. Someone make it make sense. From the fanart she posted based on this book before it was released, she baited us about all her strong and important female protagonists and then it turned out to be a big bluff. Then, they forgot to include another trigger warning on the summary: necrozoophilia, which I have no fucking clue if it’s a thing, but there’s a scene of a monster raping the dead body of a deer in very graphic detail, and I’d have loved a heads up to be fucking honest with y’all. So you know, there’s your general warning, book fam. My favorite character was Gus and it made me sad to see everyone treating him so bad, except for Domino. They had a very codependent relationship that kind of muddied their romance for me. Because do you even have much of a choice when there’s only one person in the whole world who treats you right? Romance works when they actively choose each other over everyone else, but what kind of choice did Gus have? What happened to Gus needs another trigger warning for graphic, on page, sexual assault to a minor. I could tell it was going to happen but still, I felt shook at the level of detail. Again, that kind of conscious choice from the author made me very uncomfortable. And Gus was only 16 when it happened... and his abuser was an adult. Again, it didn’t add anything to the plot. Sexual abuse should never be used to further a character’s development but in this case it’s even worse because it changed nothing. Which in turn, made it only glorified porn. Gus’ refusal to accept help from Matta and his inaction against the violence he was suffering made me so incredibly frustrated. I failed to see the logic behind these actions and that pissed me off. And Domino was just dumb and useless. I have nothing nice to say about him lol He was just there and let things happen to him and around him without much reaction apart from wallowing in his own misery. Anyway. Perhaps this won’t make sense to anyone else but this story felt dated, like your typical mm fanfic from 2012, that your online friends beta read for you and you published on AO3 with a fake cover and playlist. I appreciate the enthusiasm but my god, find better advance readers and editors for the next one. There’s potential here but it’s buried in a shit ton of unnecessary trigger warnings and poor choices.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Althea | themoonwholistens ☾

    a reminder: this is not a YA or NA book! triggers warnings can be found in the synopsis 1. THIS. COVER. IS. STUNNING. (the author is also the artist) 2. A forbidden friendship between a god/demigod and a human? Am I reading this right? 🥺✨

  3. 5 out of 5

    VICTORIA EDWARDS

    Wow. I’m in absolute awe. That was such a horrifically intriguing roller coaster of emotions. I’m almost stunned into silence... The Nichan Smile was perfect. Absolutely perfect, and I’ll tell you why. It’s tailored for someone like me that enjoys heavily character-driven novels. This was very focused on both the internal and external growths and the journeys of Domino and Gus. Even though they are basically joined at the hip, I loved that their respective development felt very separate. Domino w Wow. I’m in absolute awe. That was such a horrifically intriguing roller coaster of emotions. I’m almost stunned into silence... The Nichan Smile was perfect. Absolutely perfect, and I’ll tell you why. It’s tailored for someone like me that enjoys heavily character-driven novels. This was very focused on both the internal and external growths and the journeys of Domino and Gus. Even though they are basically joined at the hip, I loved that their respective development felt very separate. Domino was such a sweetheart. He’s literally the equivalent of a big teddy bear. He was just trying to survive and care for the human the he and his brothers had stumbled upon at the start. Throughout the book, I loved how he grew strong and more rebellious against the tribe who continuously suppressed him and Gus. And eventually, he grows into a man who—makes some questionable decisions—but ultimately learns develops a sense of independence and confidence. Gus is such a tragic but loving protagonist. All he has done is suffer and all he continues to do IS suffer. Oh boy. What I realized, honestly, is that he comes full circle. I love that he goes from feeling alone and helpless, to learning to have a friend who he can rely on, to learning what it feels like to love, to being right back where he started; alone and scared but he finally realized that he deserved so much more than his life had to offer him so far. I ship him with his own happiness and I just want him to find it 😩. I saw the plot come into more fruition towards the end when a lot of new characters are introduced, and I’m intrigued to see where it goes. What is Domino going to do next? Will we see more of the Blessers and get to know them? Will Gus find happiness? Who the f*** knows 🤣. My last note is for the world building which was so unique, I was in awe. The corruption rain? Loved it. The Nichan’s whole story? Loved it. Gimmie more Coco. Gimmie more. So in all this was 10/10 just as I expected it to be. Everyone read this book when it comes out in June! (Pre review) Betting all my money that this book will be one of the best releases of 2021✨. Also the author/artist is such a sweetheart. She deserves the world 🖤.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Amalie Ørbak

    Review of «The Nichan Smile» by C. J. Merwild ** THIS IS A NON-SPOILER REVIEW ** I recieved this book from the author as a surprise gift, (omg!!!) and as a thank you, I will give my honest review. * This is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and I am dead serious. I rarely read adult books, but now I know what I am missing for only reading YA. Shame on me! This was my most anticipated book for 2021 and I am not disapointed! The Nichan Smile is an ADULT fantasy – it’s about Domino (the nichan) an Review of «The Nichan Smile» by C. J. Merwild ** THIS IS A NON-SPOILER REVIEW ** I recieved this book from the author as a surprise gift, (omg!!!) and as a thank you, I will give my honest review. * This is one of the best books I’ve ever read, and I am dead serious. I rarely read adult books, but now I know what I am missing for only reading YA. Shame on me! This was my most anticipated book for 2021 and I am not disapointed! The Nichan Smile is an ADULT fantasy – it’s about Domino (the nichan) and Gus (the human). The first chapter drags you straight into the story, a dramatic start where you meet the main characters of the book and some other significant characters. This book is full of loveable characters, some really strong and amazing ladies, and also some "less likeable" characters – exactly like what a book should contain. I would not say there is a true villain. That totally depends on the perspectives you view the characters. The story is original. Story and plot is character based, and I have never read anything like this before. It was so refreshing. The world building got a really great potential, we get to know some cities and history about the land, and I am excited to see what places we will explore and meet in the next book. I literally could not stop reading once I got into it. If you get stuck, there is a glossary in the back of the book--which was really helpful! As I sort of already said: this book got all I that want from a book. There is some romance (without telling more), and there is lgbt+ content. This book might not be for all though. There is explicit language, violence, adult content present. I now have the biggest book hangover and how am I supposed to find another book as great as this? I can’t really say anymore becuase of potential spoilers, and since the book is not yet out, I won’t say more. But what I will say is that YOU HAVE TO READ IT.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Maria Rasimova

    Update after reading: This was a wild journey. I'm not a crying type of reader and I'm not craving this particular emotion in books, but my heart hurt more than once for Domino and Gus. I wish I could embrace them and tell them everything is going to be alright. But following Coco for quite some time now I can't make this promise to them. I must warn you that the book is brutal. Read the trigger warning in the blurb. My absolute favorite was Domino. His tender good-natured heart is impossible to r Update after reading: This was a wild journey. I'm not a crying type of reader and I'm not craving this particular emotion in books, but my heart hurt more than once for Domino and Gus. I wish I could embrace them and tell them everything is going to be alright. But following Coco for quite some time now I can't make this promise to them. I must warn you that the book is brutal. Read the trigger warning in the blurb. My absolute favorite was Domino. His tender good-natured heart is impossible to resist. His protectiveness and loyalty are the other things to add to a pile of his goodness. And his looks 😍 (Go check out Coco's Instagram page for more art if you haven't). I'm giving this book 4.5 stars. I'm taking half of a star because of the writing. It's a subjective assessment because it was hard to read for me. The language was more elaborate than I used to. I'm sure native English speakers won't have any problems with it. But once I got over it, the story went smoothly into my mind. I'm looking forward to the next book and waiting for my Faecrate illustrated edition to arrive. I guess I will have to pet the book while I'm waiting for the next one. __________________________ I can't wait to read this book. Your art is so beautiful and it kind of builds up the anticipation. I hope someday when you're a popular author you will publish an edition with your art in it. I would definitely buy a copy.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Guillet

    Really good dark fantasy story. Really interesting characters. Waiting for the second book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jaye Berry

    Y'all be lying in the reviews and ratings for what? Smh. The Nichan Smile is about a nichan boy named Domino who meets a human boy named Gus. A nichan is another being that used to be able to shift shapes but ever since the mysterious Corruption took over, they are stuck as human. As the years go on, the two boys grow closer and their fates are tied together. No shade to the author but kinda shade? This book was originally written in French, then translated to English... and then published as Engl Y'all be lying in the reviews and ratings for what? Smh. The Nichan Smile is about a nichan boy named Domino who meets a human boy named Gus. A nichan is another being that used to be able to shift shapes but ever since the mysterious Corruption took over, they are stuck as human. As the years go on, the two boys grow closer and their fates are tied together. No shade to the author but kinda shade? This book was originally written in French, then translated to English... and then published as English. It wouldn't have been such a thing if it were originally published in French but yikes my dude. Translated books always read so bizarre and this one was extra wild. I can't even properly judge if the author is good or not because honest to god have no idea what they were trying to say half the time. But with what they have given me here, I'm inclined to believe writing isn't for everyone. This book tries to do so many things but none of them worked. Every other page we get namedropped something else and after the first dozen weren't explained, I didn't care. It's like giving different names to the most boring things and people. The world building was just awful and I still have no idea what any of this was. The backdrop for the entire book really felt like a bunch of assholes in the woods and like 3 shitty tents, no joke. The atmosphere that was hyped up so badly was a joke. The plot was ??? Plot who? It really felt like a bunch of men dicking around for 400+ pages and that was it. The pacing is so off and while everyone (including the author) is saying this is not YA, it reads 100% YA. Until it gets to the middle when the MC goes into this really fucking awful sex frenzy. It's his SEASON so of course he gets super horny and he HAS to have aggressive and violent sex with two women where he just keeps coming and coming and not seeing them as people. Up to this point in the book, female characters were nonexistent and to finally have them as fucking sex dolls only here to please the piece of shit stinky teenager was disgusting in ways I want to scream about. Like the dude was even getting horny from his female cousin being around him because he jUsT cAnT cOnTroL it. Men are ANIMALS they just can't CONTROL THEIR FUCKING DICKS and if they don't have sex oh my god they will DIE? Literally choke thank you. I wasn't going to rate this book out of respect for the fact that I didn't think I would like this in the first place but when you pull this bullshit, you are getting that 1 star and I have no damn respect to give. I know mating and nasty shit like that is a staple in some ~romance~ and wattpad hell but yea no fuck that. I don't know why m/m books have to go out of their way to shit on women but it feels like every time these days and I'm honest to god sick of it. The fact this level of misogyny is coming from a woman is even grosser to me. Do fucking better.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Meagan Durham

    This book made me feel like my heart was thrown into a tornado and then dropped me off on a roller coaster. I felt ALL OF THE THINGS. It has been a very long time since I felt so invested in a bond between two characters. Yes, I ship the two main characters together but this story is so much more than their romance. Merwild let's us grow up with Domino and Gus and you get so emotionally invested in their growth and bond that it is no longer about if the relationship is romantic or not. I am usua This book made me feel like my heart was thrown into a tornado and then dropped me off on a roller coaster. I felt ALL OF THE THINGS. It has been a very long time since I felt so invested in a bond between two characters. Yes, I ship the two main characters together but this story is so much more than their romance. Merwild let's us grow up with Domino and Gus and you get so emotionally invested in their growth and bond that it is no longer about if the relationship is romantic or not. I am usually a skimmer when it comes to setting, I won't lie. I usually focus on more dialogue than where I am placed but I did not skip a single word of this book. The locations were so unique and the world-building was so intriguing that I didn't want to miss a single thing. Every single supporting character contributed to this story in an important way. I did not feel like any character was useless or just added for filler. They each made their own impact on the lead characters. This book sets up the perfect stage for the series where I cannot wait to learn more about this world and the characters within it. Please note this book is very adult. There are scenes that will drive you to tears and are meant to do so. Read the trigger warnings before moving forward so you are not taken unaware. I will say that I believe all of these scenes were well done where I did not feel like they were added unnecessarily. They each had very important contributions to the characters and the plot. I hope you all fall hopelessly in love with both Domino and Gus with me!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Lu

    Overall rating: 1.5/5 stars. See trigger warnings below, please. * Starting off this review, I want to mention that I do am a fan of C.J. Merwild, just not in the context of her being an author. After following her a while ago, I was so excited during the announcement of her book. Her character art on Instagram was what originally pulled me in. And maybe due to my bias towards the author, I can add the 1.5 stars to the rating; out of sheer sympathy towards her and the skill it takes to publish a Overall rating: 1.5/5 stars. See trigger warnings below, please. * Starting off this review, I want to mention that I do am a fan of C.J. Merwild, just not in the context of her being an author. After following her a while ago, I was so excited during the announcement of her book. Her character art on Instagram was what originally pulled me in. And maybe due to my bias towards the author, I can add the 1.5 stars to the rating; out of sheer sympathy towards her and the skill it takes to publish a book in a second language. Now, before starting with the juicy bits, I want to mention that there are MANY trigger warnings for this book. Valkyrie already wrote a great review concerning the use of them here on Goodreads. You might want to check that out. However, due to the lack of warnings given by the author or on Goodreads, I`ll try to create a list down below, that hopefully contains every trigger/content warning for this book. In this review, I´ll try to go into depths as much as possible, so buckle up for a longer ride. * Attention! This novel contains the following trigger/content warnings which are often described very explicity! Gore, death, pedophilia, CP, necrophilia, abuse, mentions of incest, PTSD, depression, rape, trauma, self-harm, xenophobia, misogyny, description of birth. Both CP and rape are very prominent throughout the entire book, so be prepared for that. * Setting/Worldbuilding The action and overall plot takes mostly place in a small rural village, which is described to be very underdeveloped in terms of education or scientific knowledge. At first, there is no real description of the exterior world outside of that town, except for the prologue. Only during the travel Arc does the reader experience some kind of wordbuilding, which results into an info dump (happens during the last 100 pages.) Nothing feels fleshed out, and random words get thrown into sentences that are never properly explained. Just as this suggests, the overall pacing is weird and the reader does not know what is going on. "The Corruption" is mentioned throughout the entirety of the story and seems to affect the village, but it is never established what exactly this "apocalypse" is, nor why it happened. Meaning: the very foundation of the world is lacking. There seems to be a conflict between nations/races, in which the nichans are threatened by the so-called "Blessers". But this supposed-to-be main conflict gets pushed aside by the lackluster setting. * Plot I was promised - and the author even promotes - a character-driven story. But is this truly the case? No. As I mentioned above, the pacing is weird which contributes to the plot being almost non-existent. Nothing ever really happens, neither inside the village nor outside of it during the traveling scenes. The plot cannot be driven by the characters whatsoever because there was essentially no character development. (I`ll come to that soon.) There wasn`t even a cliffhanger or anything similar at the very end - so why is there a need for a second book? It could have just ended with the main characters finding purpose and parting ways. Even if that is very unfulfilling for the reader, it would still be a proper ending. The entire plot gets resolved by the mere fact that the protagonists forget about each other (destroying both their developments and that of their relationship) and move on. So, what was the point of all this built-up tension? A major aspect of the worldbuilding is a genocide that goes on for centuries. Humans are prejudiced towards monsters and go on a hunt to purify the land from its "abominations". But why does it feel like this is never explicitly mentioned nor explained? The reader gets scraps here and there to weave the story together. But that`s it... * Characters As I said, the novel is supposed to be character-driven and the author promises empowering and likable characters. That is by no means the case. Yes, the protagonists are somewhat lovable but that`s it. Which makes sense, since both Domino and Gus are the only ones that actually have personalities and that`s a stretch already. We get a vague insight into their lives but after 400 pages, we still don`t know anything about their motivations, goals nor desires. What are they fighting for, when all they get for their actions is misery? Why do they go on? Most of the time, it seems like the main motivator is sheer stubborness. After experiencing major misfortunes (abuse, rape, etc) they still go on just for the sake of living a normal life. Questionable at best, and definitely lacking in terms of character development. Another thing which upset me: Domino and Gus are written to be soulmates and have a romantic connection. But at the very end, both seem to forget about their other half; thus their relationship has always been unnecessary. Personally, and as someone who loves the childhood friends-to-lovers trope, their entire relationship and togetherness felt very icky. Both have no close relations to other members of the village and get mistreated by everyone around them. Meaning, they have no choice other than to depend on each other. Resulting into them being together out of sheer necessity. The overall lack of choice in this book seems...questionable. Coming to the side characters/ antagonists: Ero nor Beika are well-established characters. They do not have ambitions, nor real character traits. They are in the story just for the sake of making the protagonists` lives awful. And awful they are...Associating characters only with one major character trait is simply bad writing. Ero is the incarnation of domestic abuse, whereas Beika incorporates the entire spectrum from rape, to abuse, to pedophilia. And still, the protagonists are ignorant towards this behavior and willingly choose to stay close to them, never really fighting back. * Language and writing Now, what can I say about the writing style? As someone who is used to the standard of high Fantasy writing, I absolutely hated the language in this book. The entire writing felt over-simplified and very oddly worded. I know that the author wrote the book in French first, and later on translated it via the help of an editor. The question that I have is, whether there actually was an editor or at least a native english-speaking one. Because it didn`t feel like it at all. Bad translations cause the reader to double-read words and the obvious grammar mistakes make it hard to decipher entire sentences. The overall writing style reminds me of traditional YA books. And not the Dark Adult Fantasy I was promised. Frankly, the writing misses the genre by a mile. * Other Issues I had with the book This is the last and most important part of this review. Honestly, there are so many things that are problematic in this book. Where do I even start? First of all, the constant oversexualization. Yes, this book is M/M. Yes, the characters are children (7-16) during the entirety of the book. So, did it make me uncomfortable reading explicit and heavy scenes regarding these characters? Absolutely. At times, the interactions between them (especially male-female, but also between the main characters) felt extremely icky and heavy with sexual undertones. As soon as Domino talks to a female character, even when he`s still A CHILD, the conversation always turns into the direction of producing children or mating. At one point, a mother of maybe 30 years of age tries to seduce a 13yo Domino whilst carrying an infant on her back. I needed to take a double-take at that and was honest-to-god disgusted. Especially the children/teenagers are pushed into a very uncomfortable sexual context, which results into the normalization of rape and pedophilic scenes. Furthermore, the characters don`t even question said sexual encounters. There`s a heavy ignorance looming over explicit scenes, even leaning towards a justification of the topics in this book. The protagonist (who is a minor) gets raped by 2 women but - hey, it`s ok, because he is in a mating frenzy and does not have control over his urges and environment. -Bullshit! There was one line when I needed to take another double-take, and almost gagged. The protagonist is in this rut-like state and even considers!!!! raping his cousin. I know, this is supposed to be used as shock value; but shock value never ever results into the main character being seen in such a negative manner. And at that point, I had no sympathy left for Domino. A main character thinking about raping another person? Unforgivable. And this entire interaction gets ignored, or swept under the rug. What. the. fuck? This Omegaverse-like scenario seems to serve as a justification for rape and pedophilia and that is inexcusable. Moreover, it reminds me of a bad 2012 Wattpad fanfiction. What is the point in this?! There is none, exactly. Everything mentioned above makes the rape scenes seem more like rape porn. It adds nothing to the plot. Furthermore, there are more detailed non-con descriptions than actual consensual sex scenes. Why is that? The lack of content warnings for and in this book is also atrocious. There`s a scene (highly-disturbing) in which a dead deer gets raped by a monster. But have I seen any tag involving necrophilia? No, none at all. Even though it should have been the author`s responsibility to add it. Another thing: As I have briefly mentioned, the author completely missed the genre. Merwild desperately tried to write an Adult novel just by adding shock value and explicit content. But character and writing-wise, this book was on YA level. So what I want to know is: What is the target group supposed to be? Who are these heavy topics for? I`m under the assumption that only supporters of Merwild rate this book positively just because of them liking the authors art. They are reading for the artist, and not the author`s literary expertise. The reviews I have seen seem lackluster in terms of objectively critizing the author`s choice of using so many triggering features. There is one review on Instagram, describing the romance as "heartbreaking, amazing, perfect" and the characters as "lovable and flawless" - excuse me? Did we read the same thing? Certainly not. But maybe this lack of actual critical thinking is caused by Merwild wrongly promoting her book. In terms of genre, characters and the overall description of the contents - the entire promotion is badly done. The pure ignorance of her not mentioning half of the trigger warnings or topics necessary is utterly shocking and very problematic at that. The promotion via social media seems to be so disillusioned and false. Even I, before reading the book myself, had an entirely different image in my head. The book has furthermore been promoted as empowering, since there are supposed to be strong female characters. Wrong! No female character has a distinct personalty, nor a driving force. Every woman is pushed into stereotypes such as a mother figure, wife, teacher or even that of a "breeding doll". Their personalties are overshadowed by the dominant patriarchal hierarchy in this book. The misogyny is simply astounding, even though the author is female herself. Weird...Maybe that`s just a pattern in M/M literature written by women. * Now, I think I have said everything that needs to be mentioned about this book. There are so many issues and someone needs to speak up about them. Especially when it comes to the author wrongly promoting her own book, misleading her readers, ignoring trigger warnings, and the fandom`s pure ignorance towards said issues. Overall, not an enjoyable book for me whatsoever. - (Edit: the author posted a brief description of her book in her Instagram story today. I dont know whether she made the post herself or reposted that of a reader`s. But words like "slice-of-life", "loss of innocence" and "amazing romance" were used and I am, quite frankly, shocked. This book is neither of those descriptions. Referring to explicit rape, abuse and pedophilia scenes with these terms says a lot about the author herself and the fanbase. Maybe she just does not realize how awful the topics in her book really are and how much of an impact they can have on a person. But by reducing them to these terms, unknowing readers can get extremely triggered, leading to a very dangerous and misleading promotion of her own book.)

  10. 4 out of 5

    Fae Crate

    If I could 10 star this, I would. This book has everything you need: tears, thrill, friendship, family, love, loss, you name it. I cannot wait to see where this series goes and the chance to get to know the characters that were introduced later in the book! Seriously so heart-wrenchingly beautiful.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Meylia (booksandtheblacktea)

    Thank you, Coco, for sending me your book’s ARC! Here’s my non-spoiler review TRIGGER WARNING: Adult content, sexual harassment The story was about two main characters: Domino, who’s a Nichan (a species that once a beast, but then Gods gave them the ability to take human form at will) and Gus, who’s a human with Vestige condition (those who are developing deformities or gift). Long time ago, the Corruption (an unknown phenomenon that caused the disappearance of the Gods and the alteration of many e Thank you, Coco, for sending me your book’s ARC! Here’s my non-spoiler review TRIGGER WARNING: Adult content, sexual harassment The story was about two main characters: Domino, who’s a Nichan (a species that once a beast, but then Gods gave them the ability to take human form at will) and Gus, who’s a human with Vestige condition (those who are developing deformities or gift). Long time ago, the Corruption (an unknown phenomenon that caused the disappearance of the Gods and the alteration of many elements of the world they created) were plaguing their continent, and it leads to the formation of a human religious cult, the Blesser, who were now hunting the Nichans and other species because they believe that it will bring back the Gods! Domino and Gus, who have been very close since the former saved the later in a forest when they were kids, were forced to take different paths in their lives in order to set things right! And so their journey begins. The first half of the book are quite slow, but things are getting a bit more interesting in the second half. There are more actions, more plot developments, and we met some more interesting characters there. The world building was nice already, but I hope the readers can explore more of it in the next books. The other thing that I love from this book is the glossary section at the end which can help us readers if we missed something in the story. Coco’s writing style’s so far quite good, and I truly understand that this is her debut book (plus what I read was the ARC), so it’s not perfect yet ☝🏻 But I’ll definitely give my full support if Coco decides to work with a more experienced editor and some writer friends (if she hasn’t already) not only to touch up the book before the release date, but also to sharpen her writing skills for her next books!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Jane

    !!!TWs are indicated at the necessary parts of the review. (ei point 2 of ‘things I didn’t like’) This is the first time where I’ve not been able to decide how to rate a book. And I want to start this by saying that I mean no disrespect to the author. Merwild seems so sweet and is a very talented artist who I’ve admired and followed for a long time and I was so excited to finally be able to read this! Self publishing is a tricky and tiring thing so she has my upmost respect for doing this! I just !!!TWs are indicated at the necessary parts of the review. (ei point 2 of ‘things I didn’t like’) This is the first time where I’ve not been able to decide how to rate a book. And I want to start this by saying that I mean no disrespect to the author. Merwild seems so sweet and is a very talented artist who I’ve admired and followed for a long time and I was so excited to finally be able to read this! Self publishing is a tricky and tiring thing so she has my upmost respect for doing this! I just…. can’t decide where I sit with this. So I’m going to try and break it down and explain why…. So let’s start with the things I liked: - The first 40% (ish) of the story. We watch two boys from very different backgrounds come together and be there for each other no matter what life throws at them. They develop a strong friendship and trust between them and it was so sweet to see. This is a beautiful addition to the friends to lovers trope. I just want to protect Gus and Domino at all costs. - The actual ‘Lore’ or Mythology (I can’t think of the right word😂) basically the concept of the setting of the story. The Nichans, the gods, the rivalry with humans and the Corruption…. all of the concepts that made the story were interesting and had a lot of potential to be explored. - I got my heart broken a few times. Which clearly means that certain characters were written well enough for me to feel these emotions. What I didn’t like: (again, I feel so guilty about this but I’ve gotta be honest right?) 1. The writing. Now I need to acknowledge the fact that a) this was self published and therefore will not have gone through the same rigorous editing that a traditionally published novel would. b) this is a debut. Debuts are notorious for being an authors ‘weakest’ work and it is proven time and time again that authors improve the more they write and publish. and c) this story is written in English and the author is French. It would be ignorant not to take that into account. However, this seriously needed a better editor. The americanised terms and slang that was so frequently used, just didn’t fit with the tone of the story - at all. Some of the descriptions were way over the top, certain phrases didn’t flow or even make proper sense at times. Phrases like ‘falling on their butt’ and ‘ass’ and ‘jerk’ as well as the extreme overuse of the f word (I’m not a prude, but this extreme slang just didn’t fit at all with the type of fantasy story that had been set up), it just disengaged me from the story quite a few times because it simply just didn’t match the tone. It just didn’t feel very professional. Also important to mention here is the badly indicated time jumps. The first half of the story takes place when both Gus and Domino are around the age of 6/7. The second part then jumps to when they are 13 but it takes us a long time to actually understand this time jump. There is then another jump midway through one of the parts that jumps forward another 3 years and again, it takes us a while to properly realise that. On top of this, the flashback scenes - although the intention of them was well thought out, the execution of them was again poorly done. There were a few times where a chapter starts with a scene from say 5 years previously, but it is written as though it is happening presently and the flash forwards to the real current day was difficult to spot and therefore made a few scenes confusing and again, making them not flow quite so well. 2. The unnecessary rape and assault. Yes. MAJOR TRIGGER WARNING here. Ok so I understand this book was marketed as NOT FOR CHILDREN….. but I just presumed that meant strong themes and potentially more steamy CONSENSUAL sex scenes. NOT THIS. Ok so there were just so many WRONG things that happened here. Some of these things I could let slide because of the setting and character personalities and purely because these traumatising things DO happen in real life and we can’t ignore that, but I feel it is important to mention all of these things because people need to know what to expect: - A 13 year old boy is seen and described as getting a blowjob by what we can only assume is a girl of the same age - An older woman with children attempts to get 13 year old Domino to sleep with her - 16 year old Domino is forced to undergo this ritual type thing at the age of sixteen whereby he is made to have sex with two willing women who one of which is described as being almost twice his age. It seems consensual but when you think about it, it was quite questionable. He was still a kid in my eyes and not old enough to make this serious decision. I understand it was this tribal thing and whatnot but it was frankly quite uncomfortable to read about. NOT ONLY THAT though, but one of the women refuses to stop and get off him when he quite evidently wants so stop. That’s rape in my eyes. You can make your own judgement on that scene but that is just how I saw it. - Gus is sexually assaulted both physically and/or verbally on multiple occasions. - (not sexual but still important to mention): two grown men attempt to hang a 6 year old Gus at the very beginning of the story. In quite distressing detail. None of this added anything to the story. It didn’t develop the characters in any way, nor did it add anything to the story other than make it an uncomfortable read. 3. The second half of the book. It started well. I thought I knew where this was going but then it hit a point in the book where the plot kind of just vanished and things stopped making sense. And the ending (albeit having some interesting ‘plot twists’/ reveals) was generally too abrupt and pretty much fell flat for me…. I am intrigued to see where this goes in the sequel because I have a lot of questions that I need answering and some avenues I would like to be explored but it all came to an end so quickly to the point where I closed the book and just had to stare at the wall to comprehend what I’d just read. Maybe I’m being a bit harsh here though…. this might just be more of a personal preference thing. 4. A lot of the characters were mean and harsh for no reason other than to be labelled as the mean and harsh characters. They had no other substance to their personalities. They were just there to attack or start an argument, nothing else. The only characters I properly cared about were Domino and Gus and even they started to do a few things that just annoyed me and felt out of character. I feel like I have more to say but I don’t want to sound like I hated the book because I didn’t, I just had a lot to say about things. It was one of those books that I felt needed a proper in depth review. I hope people that read this understand that this is not me trying to be overly harsh and analytical because I’m generally a very generous reviewer (hence why I simply cannot rate this because I both loved and seriously disliked aspects to the point where any rating just doesn’t feel right). I don’t want this to put people off, I just thought that the issues I had needed to be addressed mostly for educational purposes BEFORE people go into this book. So please, read this if you want and make your own decision! Supporting indie authors is always a lovely thing to do so again, please don’t think that this is a hateful review. It isn’t. These were simply just my thoughts!

  13. 4 out of 5

    angie

    I can't wait to read this book :) I can't wait to read this book :)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Chiara | _ckarys

    Having been a longtime supporter of C.J. Merwild’s art, THE NICHAN SMILE was one of my most anticipated reads of 2021 and one that I’ve been wanting to read for years. Now that I’ve read an ARC of this debut, I can say the wait was worth it. Before getting into this review, I want to remind readers that this is an adult fantasy which faces some difficult topics. Please check the book’s synopsis for the trigger warnings before reading. The Nichan Smile follows Domino and Gus, respectively a Nichan Having been a longtime supporter of C.J. Merwild’s art, THE NICHAN SMILE was one of my most anticipated reads of 2021 and one that I’ve been wanting to read for years. Now that I’ve read an ARC of this debut, I can say the wait was worth it. Before getting into this review, I want to remind readers that this is an adult fantasy which faces some difficult topics. Please check the book’s synopsis for the trigger warnings before reading. The Nichan Smile follows Domino and Gus, respectively a Nichan (a sort of shapeshifter species original to this world) and a Vestige (a human with magic and peculiar physical traits). Domino and his brothers have been separated from their mother and seek sanctuary in their uncle’s Nichan clan. During their journey, they meet Gus and save him from abusive men who have taken him in their custody. From that moment on, the story follows Gus and Domino’s journey from childhood to adolescence through the development of their friendship and…more. Maybe. Who knows *insert cheeky face*. The story in this first book was very character driven and its strength resides in its protagonists. Gus and Domino couldn’t be more different. Domino is the kind of character that I immediately warm up to and adore: he’s sassy, caring, protective, curious and—especially as he grows into a young man—reckless. Gus, on the other hand, is more reserved and distrusting, a consequence of the abuse he’s endured since childhood and the scorn he’s repeatedly subjected to with the Nichans because of his human nature. Despite their differences, however, Domino and Gus’s personalities were perfectly complimentary and their chemistry was off the charts. I know fantasy readers are all for the enemies to lovers dynamic, but I think there’s something fascinating and real about showing the development of a friendship and the way that bond can deepen over time. Gus and Domino are proof of that. Their banter was filled with moments of hilarity, sass and heartbreaking intensity, made all the more impactful by the years of friendship, devotion and absolute trust. The Nichan Smile also counted on the support of an incredible cast of secondary characters. Every character introduced was complex, fascinating and morally grey (though there are a few who were absolutely dreadful and have no redeeming qualities whatsoever). It’s because of this complexity that these characters felt real, and those emotions shone through the page and tugged at my heartstrings on multiple occasions. As far as world-building goes, it was very original and though this first book only scratches the surface, you can perceive the vastness of the world and lore, and I’m sure we’ll see far more of both in the future installments. Overall I really enjoyed the pacing of the story, although I felt it was a bit slower in the second half and I wasn’t as engaged as I was at the start. However, that’s also the part where we start getting deeper into the plot and putting the roots for the future installments, so it was still interesting to read. However, I adored the ending of the book, which felt like coming full circle in Gus and Domino’s journeys while, at the same time, leaving me desperate for the sequel. I can’t wait for everyone to be able to enjoy this read on June 1st! Thank you to the author for sending me an ARC to review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ash

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Warning: this is more of a rant than a review, but tldr I loved it all except one scene that I absolutely hated and one future promise. Trigger warnings for this book (and my rant): Sexual assault (to a minor) Violence Am... zoo-necrophilia? I saw someone else use this word and it fits, just use your imagination Sexual acts with underage characters (the whole thing is set in a world where there’s no age of consent and people basically have sex as soon as they start thinking about it so age is never Warning: this is more of a rant than a review, but tldr I loved it all except one scene that I absolutely hated and one future promise. Trigger warnings for this book (and my rant): Sexual assault (to a minor) Violence Am... zoo-necrophilia? I saw someone else use this word and it fits, just use your imagination Sexual acts with underage characters (the whole thing is set in a world where there’s no age of consent and people basically have sex as soon as they start thinking about it so age is never considered an issue in the book) I’m so bad at listing trigger warnings but I tried I really wanted to give this book 5 stars. As soon as I started reading it I fell in love with the characters and everything about the book. But then something happened that really annoyed me and soured the mood of the book for me. Domino had to go through his “seasons” which is basically like some sort of heat where he has to go fuck one or more women non-stop for several hours to satisfy his needs. Apparently it’s a sign of nichan’s growing up and their bodies urges to breed. I hated it. I dislike books where we have to read in explicit detail about mc’s sleeping with other people, especially mlm books and having the men sleep with woman for story progression . I really dislike books where the people aren’t fully human and have deep seated animal instincts to fuck and breed with woman especially when they don’t want to but can’t help it cause it’s “part of them”, even when they are men who love men but the instinct in them is to fuck women. It just annoys me so much cause it’s not even that they have the urge to have sex, it’s the urge to breed because Domino was never offered a man to “help” him. And the thing is that there is no homophobia in the book, there are queer couples and no one says anything negative, so again the whole thing is literally just a once off time for men (it doesn’t mention if it happens to women) to have the crazy urge to sleep with women to breed and then that’s it. I really don’t like it because in real life I hate the idea that all were expected to do is have children, and that it’s an urge inside all of us that we can’t ignore and we must all want children (It’s honestly why I loved the green creek series so much cause they were shifters but there wasn’t a single mention of breeding urges or needing to have children), so I know this issue is definitely a personal one and not actually anything wrong with the story. I’m also not a fan of sexual scenes that, although they are consensual, the participants don’t particularly want to be doing it. Domino didn’t want to sleep with the woman (the two woman volunteered to “help”) but had no other choice, and we got the explicit details of how it went on for so long that he had to be forcefully stopped and how the women were red and raw from it all, most of which Domino was barely aware of because he was just running on instinct to keep going. And as soon as he came back to his right mind, he pushed away the woman who tried to come back onto him and didn’t want to be near them. I love reading smut, but where both people are very much enjoying themselves and want to be doing it. Not this “consensual but not wanted” type of sex. Oh also, age in this book is never really considered an issue when it comes to sex. Domino is 16 when his “seasons” happen, and one of the women is over 30 and I’m not sure how old the other is. Now this 30+ year old was trying to get Domino to sleep with her when he was 13, so it added to the ick factor of the “seasons” scene. She is the same one who tried to continue having sex with Domino after his urges past, even though he said he wanted to stop. I know I’m probably reacting a lot worse to this than most people, and I hate that it bothered me so much that it affected how I viewed the rest of this book. I just didn’t see the point of it. Like it happened and that was it, it didn’t have any other affect on the plot so I don’t see why add it in the first place. Unless one of women is gonna end up pregnant so that Domino can have a kid, but if that happens I’ll honestly be so pissed. What’s even worse is right after this scene we finally get a Domino and Gus moment but it’s not even satisfying because of what just happened. Then we have the end where Domino promises to marry a woman to unite their clans. They talk about the fact that they will have children, again even tho Domino doesn’t want to be a father, but that’s just what people do apparently 🙄 so what, Domino will marry this woman in the future and Gus will be like his future side piece cause we all know they’re in love, but we’ll still have to see Domino having children with this woman? If that happens I really will just give up on the series. Again I know I’m probably overreacting, honestly I’m not sure why I am so insanely bothered. I’m just at a point in my life where I don’t have the mental patience to be dealing with these scenarios 😂 it just feels like an overdone trope in lgbt+ fantasy/paranormal books where “instinct” overrides love and it’s just really not for me. Aside from those parts, it was brilliant. I loved everything. The characters were amazing. I couldn’t predict a thing which is what I loved the most. The world building was amazing and unique. It was violent but not too gory. Everything the author created was just incredible. I was worried for a lot of the book about the sexual assault trigger warnings, because usually those are the scenes I hate the most, but it was very brief. I honestly don’t know what it says about me that the whole “seasons” thing traumatised me more than the SA. I do still want to read the future books, but I will be hoping the marriage thing is done away with and we won’t have to go through any more scenes of Domino sleeping with woman that he has no interest in.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Angelique Torres

    I've been reading the chapters Merwild has been putting up on her website and boy is this rough. I really think that she should have taken a bit more time to revise and edit this book. You can tell that it wasn't written in English. That it was poorly translated. I feel like I'm reading a wattpad story and thats...bad. I will probably give this book a chance but the start has been rocky and I dont have high hopes for this book at all. I've been reading the chapters Merwild has been putting up on her website and boy is this rough. I really think that she should have taken a bit more time to revise and edit this book. You can tell that it wasn't written in English. That it was poorly translated. I feel like I'm reading a wattpad story and thats...bad. I will probably give this book a chance but the start has been rocky and I dont have high hopes for this book at all.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I‘ve followed the author for some time now where she posted her art. It is really awesome that she wrote and published the book about the characters we know from her art!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Thea Lizabeth

    I so thoroughly enjoyed The Nichan Smile! I easily fell in love with the characters rooting for them from the first chapter. The author really makes you care for her characters both rooting or crying. I really enjoyed the ending as it fits so well with the story. The world-building is wonderful, and I was easily transported into the story. Side note, the illustrations Coco makes for this are AMAZING and so helpful. I cannot wait to read more about Gus's journey in the second book! I so thoroughly enjoyed The Nichan Smile! I easily fell in love with the characters rooting for them from the first chapter. The author really makes you care for her characters both rooting or crying. I really enjoyed the ending as it fits so well with the story. The world-building is wonderful, and I was easily transported into the story. Side note, the illustrations Coco makes for this are AMAZING and so helpful. I cannot wait to read more about Gus's journey in the second book!

  19. 4 out of 5

    janel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Woo boy. This was... something. I feel I have to mention first that English is not this author's first language, but she chose to publish in English first for a wider reach, and while I can admire that, I'm left wondering if she had native English speakers edit this for her (she mentions in acknowledgements that all of her beta readers were French, so I'm assuming no). The translation has moments where it is perfectly fine even if the prose isn't good, with sentences that flow legibly. But there Woo boy. This was... something. I feel I have to mention first that English is not this author's first language, but she chose to publish in English first for a wider reach, and while I can admire that, I'm left wondering if she had native English speakers edit this for her (she mentions in acknowledgements that all of her beta readers were French, so I'm assuming no). The translation has moments where it is perfectly fine even if the prose isn't good, with sentences that flow legibly. But there are other sections where you can tell a translation led to statements sounding like a child reading out a medical text, with words that don't fit in the situation placed there because the English version is lacking the nuance (like when you have a child character describing the look of something and they use heterogeneous, which does nothing for a physical description, really). I want to give this author as much credit as I can for translating her book, but I'm left unable to defend it when I feel it needed more native English speakers looking at it, with her choice being to write in English. Spoilers below. I see so many things, from the author to other people discussing this, warning people of how this is not YA or NA, it's very much adult and it's dark and graphic. I uhh... I don't know if I agree. The plot is very YA, the character journeys and themes are very YA, there are just a few graphic sexual acts and an assault thrown in. I feel like implying it's adult because of those few scenes rubs me the wrong way - while I would not want a teen reading those scenes, their inclusion doesn't change the overall tone, writing style, and themes. They could have easily been taken out and this book would be YA, which is part of why I feel this way. If more adult themes come into play as the series goes on, that's fine, but this book on its own does nothing other than have a few explicit scenes (tamer, apart from the SA scene, than ACOTAR). The plot is strangely paced too, and by that I feel like a fair number of things happen that I could list off, but things that are actually necessary for the driving of the plot or the character development feel lacking. I feel like maybe the length of the book could have been cut a fair bit, with maybe more fine tuning of how to show the development without so much empty plot or frivolous scenes. Tightening things could have made the plot more impactful. Since I follow the author on Instagram I saw her say that this is specifically not a romance book either, but it really read like one to me. I love romance fantasy, there's nothing wrong with it at all, and I don't know but I think the adamant "this is not romance" felt a little judgemental to me, especially when so much of both POVs revolves around romantic/committed feelings to the other character. They even have a sexual experience together and then go "i want to hold my friend" after, which just feels like the author going "they're not a couple yet!!!" but it just... most of the driving force for both characters is the other, and they talk about being attracted to each other constantly, missing them if they're not sharing a bed, wanting to belong to the other. It's not a criticism of the book (though I feel we don't get scenes of their personalities working together, just scenes of them being bonded from a couple childhood moments), I just feel like maybe the author didn't want the stigma of it being considered a "romance" book when that's how I feel about it. Another symptom of following the author is that I have seen her taste in books change, and I saw that she was trying to separate herself from books that a lot of people followed her for (ToG, ACoTaR), with I think her saying something like "I've grown past those books" (I don't want to be direct quoting, this is just something I remember from IG stories). This lingered in my head when I got this book because it seemed like she was wanting something "more" than those books, so I might have gone into this expecting something that didn't end up happening, which could explain why I disliked it so much. I will say that this book had less em dashes than SJM does, but the rest of it felt like a disappointment based on my expectations. If you loved this book, I'm really glad, these are just my personal opinions. I really feel like this author would benefit from editors and beta readers in the language that this is published in, and that some more plot tightening or examination of what scenes are necessary for plot development could help a lot. For now I don't think I'll be reading other work by this author, it simply didn't work for me on any level.

  20. 5 out of 5

    kas

    just one question: WHAT.THE.FUCK.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Havoc

    I feel like the whole book's theme was 'one sided'. Well both sided but one sided. If that makes sense. In the starting it was all Domino's who was fully invested. But later when Gus finally decided to 'fuck the consequences' Domino is gone the next morning and a month later married to a lady. I feel like the whole book's theme was 'one sided'. Well both sided but one sided. If that makes sense. In the starting it was all Domino's who was fully invested. But later when Gus finally decided to 'fuck the consequences' Domino is gone the next morning and a month later married to a lady.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Richel (letsreadshallwe)

    “Perhaps he too needs a friend. Besides, true friendship is something you have to earn.” I have been a huge fan of C.J. Merwild's art for a while and when she teased us with the illustrations of her original characters Domino and Gus, I just knew I needed to know their story. The vagueness of the teasers including the blurb made everything so intriguing. I anticipated that The Nichan Smile will be a wild ride and I was correct. C.J. Merwild didn’t hold back in creating the story of The Nichan Smil “Perhaps he too needs a friend. Besides, true friendship is something you have to earn.” I have been a huge fan of C.J. Merwild's art for a while and when she teased us with the illustrations of her original characters Domino and Gus, I just knew I needed to know their story. The vagueness of the teasers including the blurb made everything so intriguing. I anticipated that The Nichan Smile will be a wild ride and I was correct. C.J. Merwild didn’t hold back in creating the story of The Nichan Smile. The world she created was vast and unique, she thought of every detail that includes a beautiful map and foreign words. The Nichan Smile follows the story of the two main characters Domino who is a Nichan, one of the species in the world who were once powerful beasts; and Gus, a human Vestige that developed a deformity. A heavily character driven story, the two main characters couldn’t be more opposite. Domino was very protective and caring whereas Gus was reserved and timid. Although their lives were entwined, I loved that they still had their own distinct personalities and their own growth. The story was unique, it was something I have never read before. Although I loved reading about the characters’ journey from childhood, I would say that the time jump wasn’t my favorite. I also noticed some inconsistencies in writing, and some of the word choices were a little too modern for the world that was created in The Nichan Smile. Trigger Warnings provided by the author: -Graphic violence -Violence against children and animals -Explicit sexual content (including sexual violence and underage sex) -Explicit language Thank you so much Coco for providing me an ARC to review!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Megan Nichols

    This is my most anticipated read for 2021! I fell in love with Merwild and her incredible illustrations the beginning of last year and following her journey of self publishing and observing her absolute love for her characters has overwhelmed with so much raw excitement. I cannot wait to finally have it in my hands!! I'm so over the moon for her and Domino and Gus and this new world she's giving us. Update: ***Coming June 1st, 2021*** Arc review: I’m incredibly humbled and so thankful that Merwild This is my most anticipated read for 2021! I fell in love with Merwild and her incredible illustrations the beginning of last year and following her journey of self publishing and observing her absolute love for her characters has overwhelmed with so much raw excitement. I cannot wait to finally have it in my hands!! I'm so over the moon for her and Domino and Gus and this new world she's giving us. Update: ***Coming June 1st, 2021*** Arc review: I’m incredibly humbled and so thankful that Merwild would allow me to be among the first to read and review her first book. The Nichan Smile “The Nichan smile, as their people called it, all in sharp points. The proud smile of a suffering people, his mother used to say.” ___________________ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ There’s been very few book I’ve made myself sleep for, and woke up with butterflies knowing it waited for me; The Nichan Smile is now one of them. I was completely engrossed in the characters and story. I adore Gus and Domino so much it hurts. Domino is actual sunshine and we don’t deserve him. His wild love and fierce joy overwhelmed me. His character was constant, his heart never losing its yearning for laughter and the goodness of life. He felt things so fully. He laughed when he was happy and he cried when he needed to. The protective and nurturing love he extended to Gus ruined me. It absolutely overwhelmed my soul. His oldest brother, Mora, communicated so sweetly with him, encouraging healthy masculinity and it was so wholesome. Gus. My precious Gus. He’s my absolute favorite, my sweet winged boy. The love I have for him engulfs me. He’s so beautiful, a study in contrasts; soft and sharp, endearing and cautious. Vulnerable and guarded. He has a lot of inner monologue that I adore, his thoughts revealing the words he’s scarce to speak. He smiles nine times in the book. I counted. He blesses us with laughter five times and truly they’re encouraged by Domino and that knowledge lays waste to my heart. Their dynamic is so sweet, and endearing. The way they interact is so raw and engrossing. I enjoyed reading about Gus and Domino as children in an adult story. You don’t get a lot of that outside of stories for a much younger audience in a milder context. The progression from childhood to adulthood was a journey well developed and expressed. Their characters matured along the timeline without losing their original tone and personality. I enjoyed the rest of the characters presented. They varied greatly and we’re all so intriguing. They were well developed and held their own. So many of them frustrated me to no end and others had me laughing abruptly at the quick witted sass. I’m in awe Merwild translated this book from French to English. I think that’s so incredible. The dialogue style actually read like a classic, in my opinion, sometimes scriptural, reminding me of poetry in places. It was very direct and straightforward while maintaining the necessary emotions. The plot kept me so curious and didn’t follow any familiar path. I was continually surprised by the twists and endless questions that kept arising. They were answered in their own time and the need to know was desperate. During The second half of the book I was a ball of anxiety. I felt protective anger and desperation and endless worry. Merwild had the audacity to leave us dangling at a cliffhanger and I’m still not over it. I’m eagerly and impatiently awaiting the second book. I miss these boys terribly. Trigger warnings: Language, graphic violence and imagery, sexual assault, physical and verbal abuse

  24. 5 out of 5

    Arianna

    ooof. now that, was hella disappointing. way to ruin a good story. (view spoiler)[ to sum it up, this world is okay with pedophilia, I wanna say its even encouraged??? (when mc is 16 he has sex with women over thirty, one of them even came onto him when he was 13), second mc is sexually abused (on page). dismembering of a body, death, heavy bullying, abuse, necrophilia.... all those triggers apply (and more tbh). the whole story went downhill after the 50% mark. I didn't even finish it cause at o ooof. now that, was hella disappointing. way to ruin a good story. (view spoiler)[ to sum it up, this world is okay with pedophilia, I wanna say its even encouraged??? (when mc is 16 he has sex with women over thirty, one of them even came onto him when he was 13), second mc is sexually abused (on page). dismembering of a body, death, heavy bullying, abuse, necrophilia.... all those triggers apply (and more tbh). the whole story went downhill after the 50% mark. I didn't even finish it cause at one point it becomes overbearing how the author just slams their characters against the floor and you know it ain't gonna be a happy ending, also it has no plot whatsoever. (hide spoiler)]

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    Amazing book. The only reason I have not given it 5 stars is because it took me a bit too long to get used and understand the world they live in, but that might just be my problem, and at the end I was completly into the world, leaving me ready to submerge fully in the next book from the beginning. It is a very character driven book so if that's not your think, you might not like it as much, I do love character driven books and I loved this characters how they grown and the promise of what is to Amazing book. The only reason I have not given it 5 stars is because it took me a bit too long to get used and understand the world they live in, but that might just be my problem, and at the end I was completly into the world, leaving me ready to submerge fully in the next book from the beginning. It is a very character driven book so if that's not your think, you might not like it as much, I do love character driven books and I loved this characters how they grown and the promise of what is to come. I loved the end of the book is a "to be continue..." kind of ending without a strong cliffhanger that break you heart and mind. I can't wait for the next book. To know more about this people lives. 100% recomend this

  26. 4 out of 5

    moony ☽

    Actual rating: 4,5. RTC ------ C.J. Merwild's illustrations are pure masterpieces, I can't wait to find out if her book will be just as good. I'm so excited. The cover already has my full attention. 🖤 Actual rating: 4,5. RTC ------ C.J. Merwild's illustrations are pure masterpieces, I can't wait to find out if her book will be just as good. I'm so excited. The cover already has my full attention. 🖤

  27. 5 out of 5

    ✨arma✨

    Oh god I thought people only wrote like this in highschool. Recc'd by a friend, whose judgement I no longer trust lol Oh god I thought people only wrote like this in highschool. Recc'd by a friend, whose judgement I no longer trust lol

  28. 5 out of 5

    Zachary James

    I received an ARC of this book from C.J. (Coco) Merwild in exchange for an honest review! (NO SPOILERS) First, I want to mention that ‘The Nichan Smile’ is NOT Young Adult fantasy. It is an amazing example of what Adult fantasy should be, so please make sure you heed the trigger warnings in the synopsis. I’m more than positive that Coco (C.J. Merwild) would never want to upset anyone by the content of her story. Merwild’s writing, however, is descriptive, beautiful, and lyrical. I felt like every p I received an ARC of this book from C.J. (Coco) Merwild in exchange for an honest review! (NO SPOILERS) First, I want to mention that ‘The Nichan Smile’ is NOT Young Adult fantasy. It is an amazing example of what Adult fantasy should be, so please make sure you heed the trigger warnings in the synopsis. I’m more than positive that Coco (C.J. Merwild) would never want to upset anyone by the content of her story. Merwild’s writing, however, is descriptive, beautiful, and lyrical. I felt like every page was reading a legend and what makes it even better is that this is only the beginning. This story follows Domino (who is Nichan) and Gus who is human. Their journey starts early on, when they’re children, and you get to grow up with them. Move through the dark and twisting world Merwild has created with exquisite and attentive detail. I had so much fun reading this book. The plot, characters, and fantastical elements are so original and well done that it’s impossible to NOT be drawn into the story. Truly, they drive the story through so many ups and downs and all I wanted to do was root for them. I’d probably defend Gus and Domino until my very last breath. I love them so much and the relationship that builds between them isn’t wholly about romance, but more so about the undeniable connection they share. The Nichan Smile is a heart-pounding, intricate, and addictive story that I never wanted to end. It’s exactly what Adult fantasy should be, plus more! Great job, Coco Merwild! You’ve exceeded all of my expectations and I can’t wait for the next installment in this series!!!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Daevala

    I really wanted to like this book. I really did. From the beginning it is obvious this book isn't suited to English. Sentences often get a bit flowy and confused, and I often had to stop and reread what I had just read to even understand what was going on. The main characters are just frustrating to read most of the time and while I understand that they should be the center of attention in a book like this I would actually have liked to meet more than one or two good side characters. On the worldbu I really wanted to like this book. I really did. From the beginning it is obvious this book isn't suited to English. Sentences often get a bit flowy and confused, and I often had to stop and reread what I had just read to even understand what was going on. The main characters are just frustrating to read most of the time and while I understand that they should be the center of attention in a book like this I would actually have liked to meet more than one or two good side characters. On the worldbuildnig note, its obvious something is there (a good base to build upon maybe) but as someone who adores fantasy and magical worlds there just wasn't enough for me and what we got somehow felt a bit incomplete due to improper and confused presentation. And maybe an unpopular opinion, but I've seen many complaining about the seasons part (honestly atm it could be torn out and it wouldn't make any difference) but I've read books with similar concepts where that was done very well and so I know it can be done well, so it wasn't the biggest problem the book had in my opinion. Something that also bothered me was that sometimes it felt like the author simply skipped form one theme to another without proper transition.... just.. BAM... and there you go. Something new. And due to often confusing wording of the book that's all it took to simply enrage me. Overall I think this whole book read more like a backstory for a couple D&D characters that was written by an overly enthusiastic player that did this for the first time without any real guidance than a serious published work. I think most of the negatives for me would be improved with simply proper translation and editing and I hope the author publishes their work in French so it gets the love it deserves.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andie

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Just finished reading it and this book really deserves more hype. The rollercoaster of emotions, the plot, characters, the environment, the description of what happened, EVERYTHING was perfect from A to Z. I'm not even exaggerating or overreacting. Many people were crying after finishing it but I just want the second book? And third. And forth. And whatever comes before and after and during, the arts etc. I just want it all. **SPOILER ALERT** The feeling i had during reading it... One second I wa Just finished reading it and this book really deserves more hype. The rollercoaster of emotions, the plot, characters, the environment, the description of what happened, EVERYTHING was perfect from A to Z. I'm not even exaggerating or overreacting. Many people were crying after finishing it but I just want the second book? And third. And forth. And whatever comes before and after and during, the arts etc. I just want it all. **SPOILER ALERT** The feeling i had during reading it... One second I was all "He's gonna kiss him!" The next "Please don't die T^T" then "Uh-oh, they're in trouble" and "What just happened...?" I desperately need to say that I want to give a cup of hot chocolate to Gus and wrap him in a blanket, and hug him for all the pain he went through. As a human... He really didn't deserve any of this. Being looked down at by his own mother, then being hanged, being rescued but bullied by an asshole who ended up doing unspeakable things to him, the pain and hollowness he felt when Domino left... It's just too much for my poor boy. And Domino... Losing your mom at that age, then living in a completely unfamiliar place with strangers that didn't want to accept him... That hurts a kid a lot. Glad he grew up to be such a nice person. Their pain wasn't the same, but after some point they almost became one soul in two bodies. Completing each other, being perfect together. They found each other, but then became separated by fate and now Domino is marrying and Gus is nowhere to be find... How am I supposed to wait for god knows how long until the next books is out? How am I supposed to survive? 😭😭😭😭😭

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