Genre: young adult fantasy
Publish date: 2. April 2019
A girl who can speak to gods must save her people without destroying herself. A prince in danger must decide who to trust. A boy with a monstrous secret waits in the wings. Together, they must assassinate the king and stop the war.
In a centuries-long war where beauty and brutality meet, their three paths entwine in a shadowy world of spilled blood and mysterious saints, where a forbidden romance threatens to tip the scales between dark and light.
Rating out of five: four
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I read this book in one sitting and found it very entertaining and better than I expected. It’s more of a high fantasy than a lot of other young adult fantasy books, especially since it has a magic system tied to what’s seen as gods, something I already really like and hope to see more of.
The writing is fenomenal. It’s really what sold me this book already a few pages in. The dialogue is a bit worse at points, but for the most part it had enough humor and cleverness.
The problems I have with these books think I have a lot to do with the level the beginning was at, and the expectation it created in sense of style and progress. I really felt in the beginning that this book was well thought-through, with a vast world and great, complex characters. A minor problem, but one that irked me, was the names. Like why don’t make the names easier, when you chose to introduce so many places and characters at once, slavic-inspired or not. Like main characters are Malachiasz Czechowicz and Nadezha. Thinking more about this, I think it might also be a problem with the voice of the book chosen as very personal, because it’s young adult, and then Nadezha trying to give a bunch of information about this world as if it was knowledge she just gained. I get that it would’ve taken a lot more effort probably, but I feel that it can be done better with enough tweaking.
The big problem I had was the composition of the book and the plot in that it tried to do a lot. I usually never complain about this! But the introduction and reader’s connection with the characters, which turned out to be so interesting, was swallowed by the need to move on with the plot in the story. It succeeded in going straight into one life-and-death conflict, but then it did so again, without yet having given the slower moments in between where you get to know the characters. It was too obvious that the plot needed to progress at a fast pace, especially in how characters – especially Nadezha who is the “outsider” – suddenly puts together things they shouldn’t have been able to! It happens enough times that it became a big problem for me.
I would recommend giving it a try, because there’s things this book does really well, out-weighing what I see as the more awkward parts. Nadezha dealing with conflicts towards her gods and how the gods worked in this world was a favourite part of mine. Still, of the alternatives given to her towards the end, one seemed much less preferable than the others, and I wonder if that was like a flaw in how unbalanced the portrayals actually were or like a very personality based opinion. So if anyone has read the book – I would really like to discuss the Nadezha’s choices at the end!
In general, I liked this book and I am looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy.