I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me…
Outwardly, Jovan is the lifelong friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible Heir. Quiet. Forgettable. In secret, he’s a master of poisons and chemicals, trained to protect the Chancellor’s family from treachery. When the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army lays siege to the city, Jovan and his sister Kalina must protect the Heir and save their city-state.
But treachery lurks in every corner, and the ancient spirits of the land are rising…and angry.
I wasn’t sure what to make of this book when I first started reading. The first two chapters are intense and there is a lot going on. Once settled into the story though I really enjoyed this book.
The story centers around three main characters, Jovan, his sister Kalina and Tain, when you scratch below the surface the relationship between them is a complicated one. All characters in this book, whether main players or side characters are beautifully written, and it’s one of the main reasons I found this book so compelling. When I know what is motivating all the players I find myself more invested in their story.
The main action all takes place in the city – the world building in this story is beautifully subtle in it’s telling. You get a real ‘sense’ of the place as you progress through the book but there are no long passages of description or explanation. It is just interwoven into the fabric of the narrative.
This is a fantasy book, however, the story at it’s heart is a good old fashioned murder mystery, but my goodness it’s a good one! There is a puzzle to solve right from the beginning and pieces are dropped in along the way to keep you guessing. There are curve balls and misdirection, the pace of the book helps to keep you gripped. Towards the end I was flipping through the pages to find out how it was all going to come together.
There are some interesting undercurrents in this book and I couldn’t help but feel that there was a lot here that echoes what is going on in some parts of the world today. What happens when you stop valuing other peoples believes? When minority groups are seen as ‘lesser’ and the people in charge stop caring and just get greedy? Sound familiar? This adds an extra dimension to an already brilliant story.
This is up there as one of the best fantasy stories I have read this year and I highly recommend it. Many thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for a honest review.