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Realms, races and powers, oh my. A human girl, an elf prince and a hunky emperor with a monstrous army behind him. These three have been prophesied about along with four others whose destiny lies in the fight of their lives slinging around the power of the Gods. Will Lilae fall for the cursed emperor or will she hold out for the elf prince?
I love stories with powers and this one is full of them. They are very convoluted and I’m not sure what a lot of them do but its all connected to the races, somehow… *Sits down due to dizziness.* I wanted very badly to love this book. I also love dual POVs stories where we follow a male and female. I love stories with cool creatures and battles to be won and odds to be overcome. There are a lot of good ideas all crammed into this story and while the parts can be great the sum of the parts doesn’t add up to a pleasing picture.
There were many writing and storytelling problems riddled through the book. Sometimes a story will get better as the writer gets comfortable with their world building but this was not one of them. The worst thing is how inconsistent the writing is. For example, we start out with this lovely prologue showing Lilae’s birth and how she is with the people she’s with now. But it was followed with her telling us what’s going on rather than showing us the current circumstances. The contrast of great to poor is so stark that it makes the book hard to read. If it were all poor then it would be easier to read because your expectations would start low. The techniques used to tell us information is very poor as well. You know an amateur writer when they info dump in dialogue and nothing much happens while all this talking is going on. And there was this great battle with her step sisters that would have been a much better start. The good stuff there was drowned in really stinky storytelling.
I HATED Lilae. I hung in there a really long time trying to like her. I mean she trains everyday and craves the love of a mother. Even her thoughts would annoy me with their inane shallowness:
“She forced a half-smile. She pictured herself tripping over her own feet and embarrassing herself. She didn’t think she could handle having Anic laugh at her.”
This is a badass fighter who beats whole groups of bandits and has been on the run her entire life! No… no one is this dim. This is what I said as I read the book – it sums her up perfectly:
“I really want to like this Lilae but she’s so dim!! She’s the cause of her misery and I don’t have any sympathy – if you’re shallower than a dish at least be reliable enough to use your physical prowess you’ve been training up!! The basilisk ought to have killed the stupid cow…”
In comparison I loved and adored Liam, even when he is making amateur mistakes for a general of an army (specifically the talisman part…). The world building in his part of the book was less generic and had better developed details. There was a cool battle to start and while the telling is still out of control at least mixed in it was some great action! His people were also most interesting and better used… We gained people that I loved: Jorge and Wilem. Liam is the victim of acting based on knowledge only the author knows… I hate that kind of story, so you know Lilae was really bad for me to still enjoy Liam’s POV despite this flaw (not his fault!)
The world building wasn’t horrid but it wasn’t good either. The fighting was actually the better part of this. This read as obtusely overboard…
“Focus activated. Evasion ready. Her Accuracy changed her vision. The power within her begged to be released. Dust encircled her as she entered the battle. Her eyes squinted to keep out the dirt. It was a hot day, and she was ready to stop hiding. Lilae was ready to make a scene.”
…but this was so well done – this was the Lilae I wanted…!
“The blood stained her face like never before. It calmed her. It quenched the blood lust that had been building for as long as she could remember. Her ears were hot. Her face was hot. Every part of her body throbbed as she killed.”
Still the creatures were very cool from basilisks, riestlings, a dragon and mermaids. Well described and useful in the course of the plot…
First it starts with insults to mothers everywhere…
“You have a future, Lilae. There’s a bigger, more important task for you than just producing babies. You are different.”
…its not only insulting to them but to any woman who wants to reproduce for whatever reason… If its not okay to bash women for wanting a career, its not okay to bash women who want love and a family.
Finally I am terribly worried about women everywhere if they think the way the emperor treats Lilae is how someone in love ought to treat his woman… even if he is cursed. You don’t let another man borrow your woman and put a torture spell on them sorry.
I give the writer props for excellent ideas… the genre melding almost worked too. An ambitious undertaking that did not get executed well enough to work.
BOTTOM LINE: Lilae makes this book torture…
Thanks to NetGalley and Patchwork Press for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.