First Lines: The calming echo of a holy chant filtered down from the sanctuary and into the cellars. It was late afternoon, just before Vespers, a time where psalms to the gods were given up in an effortless chorus.
I have heard a lot of buzz about this book lately, especially since the sequel just came out. Since this was apparently all that and a bag of potato chips, I decided to check it out and see if the hype was worth it.
Since it’s so sparce, I’m just going to copy in the book jacket: 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.
Honestly, the beginning was really slow. Like, it took a looooooong time for me to feel like it was going anywhere. It wasn’t that it was hard to read, though. I often found myself starting to be drawn into the characters, but the story didn’t feel alive until about halfway through. That’s when the real action (or…plot, frankly) started.
The characters in this are complicated. They are delightfully good and bad at the same time. Some more one way than others. But I truly do love that characters are getting more complex in YA writing now. It’s so much more fun to read about.
Like a lot of fantasy novels, it’s hard for me to just jump right into a new world with very little to help me figure out what’s going on. I kind of hate the feeling of being lost until I’m 100 pages in. This was definitely one of those books, where I couldn’t figure out what it meant to be a cleric and why each chapter started by telling me about some alleged martyr and what they were saying half the time that was clearly in a different language. (Oh, and figuring out how to pronounce some of these names was a real puzzle. Everything looks like some kind of mix of Polish/Russian/Hungarian.)
It’s a pretty decent story that definitely has a lot of twists as you really get going, but I thought the beginning was just not exciting in the least. It’s a strong premise, though, and I think it could definitely go places in that sequel. I’m willing to try it. But I don’t think I’d say this is worth all the hype.