Rating: 2 out of 5 hoots
Published: April 2 2019
Number of pages: 385
Format: advanced reading copy
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Genre: fantasy, romance
Audience: young adult
Get it at: Chapters Indigo
Shelve it at: Goodreads
In a centuries long war a girl, a prince, and a boy with a monstrous secret, meet together in a shadowed world of blood and mysterious saints where a forbidden romance erupts and threatens their plan to assassinate the king and stop the war.
An advanced reading copy was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Ok right after I read ten chapters I had mixed feelings about how the plot and the characters were progressing. Then by the time I met in the middle, the story turned interesting and I found myself pulling through, but then after reading twenty eight more chapters, I was bored, like really bored and worse, I lost all interest with everything. If I drew a diagram that shows my experience with this it would look like a cliff where my experience slowly began as a positive and then after reaching the peak, I fall flat. I made the tough choice to skim through the last seven chapters just to see how this ended.
I’m going to start with what I actually liked about this book. The idea for the story is really interesting: Tranavia is ruled by a king who agrees to ally with a dangerous occult. A heroine is prophesied to put a stop to this war as she is said to possess incredible magic which she summons from her gods. A Prince of Tranavia is conflicted with carrying on with the war, or put a stop to his father. The themes of politics, a religious war, and a occult of heretics and magic raised a lot of questions about how these themes are combined together into this world that I wanted to keep reading. And in the beginning, I was getting into the story but after twenty chapters my attention was drifting off as I was bored with the slow moving plot which didn’t turn climactic until the very end. But not so fast as I haven’t begun telling you about the characters yet.
The characters are the reason why I had a hard time enjoying this. Every chapter is told in the perspective of the character and each one I was aggravated with. Nadezhda is the heroine and cleric of the story who can summon magic with help from her gods. She is pictured as ‘the chosen one’ who can end the war, and it doesn’t seem like anyone else can perform the same magic as she does, which makes Nadezhda the most powerful compared to other blood mages. Her ability to communicate with the gods and summon their aid is fascinating, but I find that she is way too trustworthy towards others. But Nadezhda has her reasons to trust Malachiasz, a mysterious boy who dabbles in dark magic, I just wished she didn’t trust him right away without investigating him first before realizing her mistake later on. And this whole ‘trusting you that you don’t betray our secret plan’ happens a couple more times too. I mean I get how these characters are desperate for this war to end, but can’t they learn to be a little more suspicious before accepting a stranger’s hand? They are in a war and for all they know there could be spies, traitors, and assassins hiding in the shadows and wearing disguises.
There also seems to be a lot talking throughout the story, especially in the last ten chapters where I got bored. Characters talking about their plan of action happens and we come to realize the big players of the game and their true intentions of winning. Then there was this one moment where I laughed when Nadezhda shares a make out scene with the potentially evil enemy who has been lying to her and yet, she still continues to trust him after. I’ve seen this played out way too many times in YA fantasy; the handsome boy lied to the girl from the beginning and she still falls for him, and even cares about what happens to this guy. What reason would Nadezhda have to trust him if she knows he lied to her!
There is also a lot of repetitiveness going on here with words like ‘monsters’ and ‘monstrosity’ to describe the antagonists. It’s like the author is beating me down with just how evil the heretics are and I get it: they are an occult of evil monsters with dark magic and I don’t have to be reminded of that all the time! Lastly the ending was wrapped up pretty quick. It was as if the author wanted to save the most intense moments and cram them in the last five chapters. I didn’t like this because it felt too rushed. This part could have been stretched out to make it more climatic but instead, I was so disappointed with how everything turned out that I dropped the book and moved on.
I want to be clear that I didn’t hate this book, it was just that my experience with this was disappointing and since there are many more positive reviews in Goodreads, it appears other readers were more satisfied with this. I really wanted to love this book because the synopsis sounded so awesome matched by a wonderful design cover and yet, it just didn’t work out for me at all.