I’ve known a bit about this trilogy for sometime but I never thought I would read it because my tbr is already so huge. But my dear friend Krisha @ Bookathon assured me that it’s brilliant and we also chose it as the May BOTM for our Stars and Sorcery book club, so here I am. And it definitely didn’t disappoint.
I loved the world building in this book. The whole book is essentially the main character Tea learning about the world around her, the histories of all the eight kingdoms, the various kinds of magic and monsters and we learn it all right alongside her. Even though not in huge detail, we get to know the distinctions between each kingdom and it’s people, how it all came to be and what are their beliefs. The witches in this world are called asha and there are various different kinds of them including the elementals and the necromancers. We also get a good glimpse into how these asha are trained and their daily lives – all of this could feel boring to some readers but I liked the steady pace, and there was always something happening to keep me interested. There was also a bit of Middle Eastern influence in the world, from using face veils to the food consumed and also some of the very familiar language used and I absolutely loved it all. I’m not much of a fan of descriptions but the way the wraps (called hua) that the asha wear, their combs and their hairpins are described, it’s all totally stunning. There is not a lot of plot in this book, but I thought this brilliantly developed world made up for it.
Tea is such an interesting character. From a scared girl who just can’t believe that her brother is dead to a Dark asha who is confident in her magical abilities, her development is phenomenal. She is good at heart, has a lot of interest in learning more about her abilities and is not afraid to use it. She is also quite clever and quick witted, using her skills to almost manipulate others to agree to her proposals. However, she also sees that despite the very important job she and others like her perform as a Dark Asha, which essentially leeches off their life force, the people will never truly respect her kind. She is also unsure about the methods used to get rid of the monsters or daeva of this world, and just wants to find a better way. Most of this story is actually a flashback, but we also get to see Tea on a totally different path in the present, and that made it all even more interesting for me. I can’t wait to see how this amazing powerful asha with good intentions veered away from her friends.
There are so many wonderful relationships in this book, the major one being between Tea and her undead brother Fox. They are bound due to the magic that she performed, but their bond is much stronger than that. She loves him with all her heart and he would do anything to protect her. I’m very very eager to know how their dynamic changes later in the series. Tea also forms some very special friendships with the other asha who mentor her and I really enjoyed all their interactions. Well written female friendships are hard to come by, so I really liked that this book had multiple such ones. There also seems to be a budding romance but it’s only hinted at, whereas the ending completely shocked me, so I’m even more excited to see how the love story will play out.
To conclude, I can say that I found this book very interesting to read with its phenomenal world building and amazing cast of characters. If you are looking for more plot driven or action packed fantasy, this might not be the book for you. But if you enjoy slow paced but excellent storytelling with characters you can’t help but love, then I think you’ll really enjoy this book. The book seems to have taken quite an interesting and dark turn towards the end, and I can’t wait to read what happens next.