After many weeks of dueling to the death, the Hunter needs a break. Which means it's Book Review Wednesday again! Today, we've got a dystopian fantasy novel you'll definitely want to check out…
People are dead, slaughtered like animals in the night.
The reigning power, the Hulcondans, blame rebels. Rabreah, a rebel, knows it’s a lie. Her younger sister, Ariliah, doesn’t; like the majority of the townspeople, she believes those in authority, swallowing their words with complete trust. Besides, she’s too busy fighting her own silent war at home. While Rabreah dedicates herself to truth and freedom, Ariliah is just trying to survive their mother’s abuse.
But as unknown forces threaten to rip their world apart, the line between friend and enemy blurs. All is not as it seems.
In fact, nothing may be.
My Review: 4 Stars
I'm going to start off with the good:
I have only the highest of praise for the world-building in this book. While we don't get a glimpse outside the city, we know everything there is to know about the culture, technology, and political situation of this one city. I felt like I got a very clear glimpse at every element of the small world in which these characters live, and it was very complete.
Character development was also very on-point! While Arililah's character bothered me a little (too "wimpy", dare I say?), Rabreah was a strong woman recovering from being broken. The story didn't focus too much on her emotional state as a result of her past, but there was enough to make me care about the characters. The other supporting characters (including the male protagonist/potential love interest) were well-developed and interesting. If these were all that mattered, this would be a five-star story.
Sadly, there is one element I felt the story lacked: action. I understand that this is a very character-driven story, but it still needed something to make me interested in those characters. I felt like it ended right at the end of the second act, when it could have been amped up a bit to some glorious climactic ending of some sort. I didn't get those heart-pounding, blood rushing final climax moments I was looking forward to.
That's not to say nothing happens throughout the book. There's plenty of drama and emotional highs and lows. It just felt incomplete, like the story ended before it was truly complete.
Here's a Taste:
“What?” he asked, tilting his head to the side as if actually interested. “He’s been by your side frequently enough to assume he truly cares for you, but then he abandons you when it comes time to dance? What, is dancing with the only girl he seems to have eyes for too intimate for him? That’s a great man right there. Or, you know what, perhaps he’s simply been trying to seduce you this whole time, and he finally realized the futility of such a plot.” His expression darkened, a smirk tugging at his lips. “It looks like he’s found a willing partner in your sister, though.”
Heat tore through my body; it was everything I could do not to lurch out of his grasp and punch him right in his leering face. Producing a verbal response was out of the question.
He straightened his neck, gazing at me as we twirled in slow circles, and scowled. Even that was mocking. “You have no comment on that? Really?” He shrugged one shoulder. “Maybe I’ve misjudged you. I thought you were more protective than that. Letting your little sister dance with a Hulcondan you met only the day before yesterday… I’m truly surprised.”
My voice came out in a hiss. “Ariliah’s fine. She’s not going anywhere with him. She’s actually smart, you know.”
“I never said she wasn’t.” His tone matched mine. Ice crept over his face, hardening his features. “But I am curious as to why you don’t seem to be the least bit concerned about his intentions toward her. Unless, of course, you already know his intentions and find nothing dangerous about them.” He thought for a beat and winced, the movement calculated. “Though, that, of course, would imply you’ve discussed your sister with him at some point, which seems unlikely to have come up in conversation in the short time he’s been here. Unless you’ve known him for longer than the duration of this festival. Then it would make more sense.”
I opened my mouth, dread rising. He waited in his arrogant way, and I cleared my throat.
“I – I don’t really know him, Lord Masrekah. And he’s a Hulcondan.” I struggled to calm my shaky tone. “I don’t exactly have any right to tell him who he can or cannot dance with. If he wants to dance with my sister, he can. And I can’t begin to tell him otherwise.”
He nodded, his eyes never leaving me. “Indeed. That’s a good, respectful answer. It’s too bad it’s all a lie, but that’s beside the point.”
“What’s a lie?”
“What, besides all of it?” He tightened his hold on my waist and leaned closer. His gaze flicked from my face, and he lowered his voice, his lips scarcely moving. The stench of ale on his breath turned my insides. “Tell me, since when did someone being a Hulcondan mean anything to you, let alone elicit your respect? Because in the last three and a half years, I haven’t seen the slightest hint of a change in you.”
Icy fingers swept down my spine. Three and a half years. All that time of watching him, and he’d been watching me too.
And there had been so much to see.
“Oh, you may have changed your behavior, which was smart of you. But while you may have fooled everyone else in to thinking you’re some disgraced whore who wouldn’t dream of stepping out of line, you and I both know what you are when you’re pushed.”
He shrugged. “I don’t know how strong your memory is, Rabreah, but mine is outstanding. I remember every detail of what happened between us.”
I swallowed hard. My voice came out as a whisper. “Nothing happened.”
“Really?” He crushed my hand, his eyes locking on mine. “‘You have no right to refuse,’” he said in a quiet snarl. “‘It’s against the law.’”
My lips parted as memories washed over me. Him saying that exact thing in that fierce voice. His fingers digging into my arm to keep me in place, his lips almost against my ear…
I begged myself not to scream, not to shove him back.
“‘I. Don’t. Care,’” he finished, making his voice higher to mimic mine.
I tensed at my own words, my own defiant response to his declaration of authority. Over three years later, and he still remembered the tones we’d used.
He withdrew enough to look at me. “Now, does that sound at all familiar?”
I sucked in a gasping breath. “Yes, sir. My Lord.”
“Oh, good. You do remember.”
“Yes, I remember.” Panic constricted my throat. I shoved it back and focused on him, keeping my tone as even as I could. “I was defiant, and I shouldn’t have been. I-It was wrong. I know that. I’ve lived with the consequences of that mistake for three years.” I bit the inside of my lip. “What’s your point, my Lord?”
“Simply that such fiery defiance doesn’t cool under the strain of silence and oppression, Rabreah. No, it erupts into an inferno.” His eyes flashed, traces of dangerous emotion streaking through them, and he leaned down so we were almost nose-to-nose. His voice came out somewhere between a hiss and a plea. “Watch. Yourself.” He straightened. “And watch your sister as well,” he added, his tone detached again. “We don’t want some random stranger from Lusitha to get any ideas about carrying her off somewhere, do we?”
“No, my Lord. We don’t.”
He smiled, pure ice. “That’s right. No, we don’t.”
About the Author:
Angie Grigaliunas (grig-ah-loo-nas) is a fantasy writer and blogger. She loves Jesus, the woods, the stars, and has always wanted to be a superhero with a secret identity. She lives in Ohio with her husband, their goofy dog, and their four crazy cats.
Find it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Sowing-Purification-Era-Book-1-ebook/dp/B01H1AMBNA
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