First Lines: The wheels of the carriage creaked as they rolled across the dirt road. The noise echoed through the quiet forest. Em crouched behind a tree, tightening each finger individually around her sword.
This was one of my ARCs and, if you saw my last Spotlight, I mentioned that I was going to read this soon (and I wasn’t lying!). [Release date is May 3, 2016.] So what did I think? Let’s find out.
Em wants nothing short of revenge. When her parents are killed and her sister kidnapped, Em will do whatever it takes to dispose of those responsible, namely the royal family of Lera. Em disguises herself as the prince’s fiancee to gain entrance into the palace and into the royal family’s arms. But Prince Cas isn’t the person Em expected him to be. He’s not the bloodthirsty monster his father is. Still, Em is determined to exact revenge…but revenge doesn’t come free…
I loved this. It has the kinds of things I love in a fantasy: magic, stunning characters (both good and bad), danger, secrets, political alliances. I mean, where can you go wrong?
Em and Cas are great characters. Em’s one desire is to bring her parents’ murderers to justice and retrieve her sister, and she’s willing to do whatever it takes to get that, even marrying a prince she hates under a false identity. It’s really compelling, actually, to see how far she’s willing to go in the name of justice. And Cas is definitely not who you think he’s going to be, which is part of his charm. He’s unpredictable because he refuses to take things at face value.
The plot I found to be delightfully intricate. There’s a lot of dramatic irony, as the story is told from both Em and Cas’s perspectives. Em knows things Cas doesn’t and vice versa. And as I mentioned, there are all of these political alliances and subtle suspicions feeding the whole thing. Everything’s tricky and nothing is quite as it seems.
If political intrigue isn’t your thing, there are a ton of sword fights and physical action. We’re talking about a world where the royal families are some of the best fighters, even better than their guards. So yeah, the sword fights can be intense. There is also a fair bit of gore, which is bound to occur when you’re doing things like severing a head from someone’s body. It’s nothing terribly graphic, but it’s still kinda nasty sometimes. Anyway, suffice it to say there are a lot of awesome action sequences.
It’s even been a few days since I’ve read this and this story is sticking with me amazingly well. Like, I remember a ton. So this is really awesome. Hopefully I’ll remember all of this when the sequel comes out next year.