This review originally appeared, in part, on my Goodreads on October 19, 2014.
A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.
Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.
Orphaned as an infant during Winter’s defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians’ general, Sir. Training to be a warrior—and desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather — she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.
So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter’s magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she’s scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she’s always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn’t go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics – and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.
Personal Enjoyment: ●●●●○
Writing Quality: ●●●○○
I was super excited for this book. And, after discovering the author is totally charming and nice to talk to
(and we ship the same things hollahhh), I bought it the day it was released.
Before I started it, though, I read a lot of reviews. A lot of bad reviews. I read and absorbed and I tried really hard to see where the bad reviews were coming from. I tried really hard not to like this book.
So I guess we’ll start with the negatives. It’s a short list.
While reading this book I had a difficult time with the dialogue. It often felt stilted or otherwise awkward. This is a personal pet peeve of mine, but I’ve noticed it’s especially common in debut novels.
As for everything else?
This book was a whole lot of fun. It was easy and it was adventurous and it was a totally New Thing that I didn’t know what to do with but it was in my hands. I was really giddy every time it surprised me with something new– some new character or some new turn of the story– just this big New Thing that I grew so fond of. It’s something that I can’t stop thinking about and getting excited over.
The world-building was fantastic (if sometimes overly repetitive) and I never felt lost, which was a relief. There are four Rhythm kingdoms (which cycle through every season in “rhythm”) and four Season kingdoms (Summer, Spring, Winter, Autumn– duh). I loved getting a taste of the different kingdoms and how the existence and use of magic affected each population. This particular brand of magic, tied to an object which is passed down the monarch’s bloodline and only affects that particular kingdom’s population, was something entirely unique. It made magic feel a bit more interesting– less whimsical, more sinister.
This book does have a love triangle. But come on, it’s the least obtrusive love triangle I’ve ever read. Meira has her priorities sorted out– her kingdom over her boy problems. And I love her for it. I adored Prince Theron of Cordell (hence the Cordell reppin’ in the above photo), and was somewhat bored with Mather, Meira’s childhood best friend. But my personal preferences didn’t affect Meira’s decision to mostly ignore the love triangle she seemed destined to fall into and instead gallivanted across many kingdoms on a grand old adventure. In the end, in spite of my infatuation with boys who love books, I had to admit, I’m Team Meira all the way.
As far as the story went, I know of a few people who said it felt predictable. I would replace “predictable” with something more along the lines of “inevitable.” It felt like the book knew where it was going from the very beginning, even if I didn’t, so the suspense kept building until the final chapters. Its conclusion felt so right. I was totally content.
I’ve seen some things that compare this book to Throne of Glass. This book, for me, fixed everything wrong with Throne of Glass. The main characters are occasionally thrown into similar situations and Meira just happens to make better choices than Celaena Sardothien. But because of those key, “better” decisions, this book feels entirely different from Throne of Glass. Both books are just about kick-ass young women in a high fantasy setting, going up against kings who are essentially, truly evil.
Overall this was a very endearing YA high fantasy, and I look forward to the remainder of the series. It’s not perfect, but I absolutely adore it, so if you read it and don’t like it don’t tell me because I will not be listening to y’all haters.