Published by Katherine Tegen Books
Published on 23 April 2019
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Source: my local library
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A broken bond. A dying land. A cat-and-mouse game that can only end in bloodshed.
Esha lost everything in the royal coup—and as the legendary rebel known as the Viper, she’s made the guilty pay. Now she’s been tasked with her most important mission to date: taking down the ruthless General Hotha.
Kunal has been a soldier since childhood. His uncle, the general, has ensured that Kunal never strays from the path—even as a part of Kunal longs to join the outside world, which has only been growing more volatile.
When Esha and Kunal’s paths cross one fated night, an impossible chain of events unfolds. Both the Viper and the soldier think they’re calling the shots, but they’re not the only players moving the pieces.
As the bonds that hold their land in order break down and the sins of the past meet the promise of a new future, both the soldier and the rebel must decide where their loyalties lie: with the lives they’ve killed to hold on to or with the love that’s made them dream of something more.
Don’t you just hate it when you read a book that objectively wasn’t bad, it wasn’t particularly riveting, either?
I think I am possibly the wrong audience for this book.
Sure, it’s a YA fantasy with a strong female lead, and although I enjoyed it to a point, overall I was not as engaged as I wanted to be.
To start with, the book is very long. My version is over 500 pages, and over half of that is the cat-and-mouse plot mentioned in the blurb, which quickly grew repetitive. I don’t have a solution for that, I just found the characters’ actions repetitive and thought Kunal was pretty much a boy whose head had been turned by a pretty girl. Meanwhile, although I loved Esha’s kindness and mercy, her continuing to spare Kunal meant that he would just chase her and find her again. They were so friendly and lovely to each other that they were barely enemies. I loved that, but I also found that it meant the stakes weren’t very high. It lessened the conflict.
I know that’s the whole plot, I’m not complaining about it. I just feel that maybe cat-and-mouse isn’t for me? Maybe the characters weren’t wily enough, or ruthless enough, because they were so good and pure and wholesome… even though they were also murderers.
I’m not sure. There was a plot twist I didn’t see coming that I really enjoyed. Kunal had some really excellent character growth that was so well written, you could literally see the cogs in his brain moving as he thought his way to being a better person. Meanwhile, Esha ended the book exactly how she began it.
I also thought the worldbuilding was very good. I felt like the author had a really great sense of place and geography. I liked seeing the different locations, especially the forest and the towns. However, I did have a really tough time remembering the distinctions of who was who, who was loyal to whom, and which faction belonged to which land. The names of the lands and gods seemed pretty matchy-matchy similar, which looked good written on the page, but didn’t help my memory.
Overall I wasn’t as engaged as I wanted to be, though there was nothing really wrong overall with the book besides it repetitiveness. I do however had a copy of the second book, so I am going to read that one as well, and hope that I enjoy it more.