Death, Grief, Murder, Conspiracy, Attempted Rape, Racism, War, Abuse, Kidnapping, Giving Birth (does get bloody at times)
POCs (possibly Black coded)
So I may not have finished this on time, BUT I’m glad I finally did finish it! It was such an amazing novel, and now I need to make sure I read the novella before I move on to Book 2.
Now, be aware that I did make sure to read the extended version of the 1st book, as this one has brand new scenes and I feel ended up being a lot more informative than the original. I was going to listen to part of it and read the other part, but when I listened to the audiobook version that was on my library’s hoopla catalog, I realized that yep… they definitely were not matching up like they should have. So I skipped the audiobook. I believe the rest of the novels match up with their audiobooks so that’s something for those that may want to listen to this series in the future. I also don’t know if they are going to redo the audiobook for the first one to match the extended version, but who knows? That may be something to come up in the future.
This was my first time reading an adult fantasy novel from a Black author and it was an amazing introduction to what also happened to be an AMAZING story. Penelope gives us two plot lines that will end up coming together in the best way. We have one plot with Jasminda and Jack. Jasminda is part Elsiran and part Lagrimari, and although she is legally an Elsiran citizen, they treat her like trash because she looks more Lagrimari. FYI: Elsirans look like white people (described as having fair skin and light hair), and Lagimari are dark skinned. They also have magic, and yes that’s another reason why Elsira doesn’t mess with Lagrimar. But hey, wouldn’t you rather have magic than not? Anyway… Jasminda somehow comes into contact with Jack – an Elsiran undercover as a Lagrimari soldier who tells her that he needs to get back to Elsira because he has really important news he needs to pass on to the Prince Regent. The only problem was… he’s already in Elsira, and yet he didn’t realize that he made it through the Mantle – a magical border between the two kingdoms that is supposed to be intact.
Some of the history of the Mantle is that there have only been seven Breaches, which ended up leading into wars between Elsira and Lagrimar. These Breaches only took place in one area between the two countries, so finding that there are openings in the Mantle showing up randomly and unnoticed by the masses was very disturbing. And you know what? There may be a reason why Elsira and Lagrimar are natural enemies that dates back many many many years ago. Just saying.
Then we have the plot with Ella, whose husband just so happens to be Jack’s second in command in the military… Well, one day Ella gets a message from her long lost sister saying that she needs to see her, and when she does end up going to see her, she finds out that her sister is literally giving birth. Her sister tells her that no matter what, she must make sure that her baby does not fall into the hands of her High Priestess because of reasons that she has no idea about. What is the importance of this child and why is the High Priestess someone that needs to be feared?
I thought this story was really enjoyable. It may have taken me a while to get through it but that’s just because every time I was finally settled to read some of it, my sleep medication kicked in. Like excuse you, meds! I’m trying to read here! I personally loved the dynamics between Jasminda and Jack. It starts off really intense since they both end up trying to save one another from danger. From strangers to allies to potential friends to…. you know? I like that this relationship didn’t stay stagnate and that – even though it shouldn’t be seen as something so spectacular or rare – Jasminda and Jack showed that it was possible for an Elsiran and a Lagrimari (well… PART Lagrimari) to get along without inherently being enemies. I also appreciated how much Jack didn’t allow the discrimination, racism, and hatred from his own people determine how he interacted with the Lagrimari refugees that he ended up working with.
I felt like I was going to add more to this, but it’s been a few days since I wrote up the above paragraphs that I think I forget what I wanted to say. Either way, I think this review is good enough to share!