This was my kind of read and one of the more enjoyable stories I’ve read in a while
While this might not end up being the best fantasy book I’ll read this year, it sure is in the running for one of the most fun YA fantasy books I’ll read. While I love fantasy anything, something about women finding their own agency, bravery, etc., and becoming a knight, archer, warrior, whatever the unexpected is, is always a storyline I want to read and a character I can get behind and root for. In this book, Seri is that character and I’m so happy I got to be along for her journey.
As a few reviews have mentioned the book does start a little slow, but this is a fantasy book so it would actually be news if the book started out fast. While it did start a little slow, it didn’t stay slow. My interest was piqued after only a few pages and it did not take long until the action started. Once the action starts, there is no stopping it and all you can really do is buckle up and remain seated for the rest of the ride.
Bonnin did a nice job with the world-building. Yes, there were still questions that I had as a reader, but most of my questions were made into a part of the story and we end up learning certain things as the characters also do. It worked well this way so that there weren’t any big info dumps that were boring or just slowed the pace way down. And during the times when the info was just given, I was thirsty for it so it didn’t seem boring and instead it felt like I’m learning cool new info. I was a fan of the magic system which I thought parts were pretty unique. I won’t give it away but my favorite part had to do with the armor. Overall, the system was enough to be interesting but not too big to be confusing or dry. This is a book that people who aren’t giant fantasy fans could read and absolutely enjoy as much as a hardcore fantasy fan could.
When it came to the character building it was not quite as good as the world-building. First, I want to make it clear that I really liked all the characters, especially the main character Seri. She is a character that will stay with me for a long time to come. The problem is that the three main female characters are all hiding pasts or have secrets so they don’t want to talk about themselves much. They all are mysterious and on the quieter side, so it’s really hard to have much character building if you don’t know much about them, in the beginning of the book. In fact, it almost felt like I didn’t really know them all that well until almost a third of the book went by. And the reason Bonnin did this was to have these big reveals, these big surprise moments about the characters happen. The problem was when most of them happened I said out loud “okay, but I would have rather had the character-building instead”. This seems to be Bonnin’s first published book so I can’t really blame her for at least a couple of newbie bumps, which this was to me. On the good side, while the character building, in the beginning, wasn’t great, the character development and growth after the first third of the book until the end, was excellent. I read a lot of books where sometimes it is hard to notice any character growth of any kind, and this was some pretty major growth for multiple characters. It was really nice to see that while the characters started a little weak, they sure didn’t end that way.
For the romance fans out there I will mention that there are two romances. There was one YA sapphic romance and one HET adult romance. The HET adult romance is more of a side romance although it is between one main character and one secondary main character. Even though it is not the main romance I found myself caring enough to root for the two of them anyway. The sapphic romance is the main romance and while it is what I would call a sweeter YA romance, it is pretty emotional and their feelings end up being pretty important in the book. I guess the best way to say it is that the romance is not just thrown into the book, instead it had a real purpose in the story which was also nice to see.
TLDR: I’m so happy to say that this was even better than I hoped, and I had high expectations. This is the kind of fantasy I really enjoy and I had such fun reading this. It had a great theme, an interesting magic system, and action around every corner. While there were a few newbie author bumps, there was nothing that ever ruined my reading enjoyment. In fact, my biggest sadness is that my book journey is now over and I have nothing of this story left to read. While everything is complete, Bonnin did leave the book open enough that she could write book two if she wanted. I hope this book catches some of that YA hype so that Bonnin will have to write a book 2. Not only that but this book deserves to find a larger audience, it is just too fun and exciting not to be read. I just don’t want readers missing out on this fantasy YA debut gem. 4.50 Stars.
A copy was given to me for an honest review.