Divine Rivals (Letters of Enchantment #1) By Rebecca Ross

Divine Rivals (Letters of Enchantment #1) By Rebecca RossDivine Rivals by Rebecca Ross
Narrator: Rebecca Norfolk, Alex Wingfield
Series: Letters of Enchantment #1
Published by HarperCollins
Published on 13 April 2023
Genres: 20th Century, Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: Audiobook
Source: my local library
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RRP: $29.99
5 Stars

When two young rival journalists find love through a magical connection, their fate depends on their facing the depths of hell...together.
After centuries of sleep, the gods are warring again...
All eighteen-year-old Iris Winnow wants to do is hold her family together. With a brother on the frontline forced to fight on behalf of the Gods now missing from the frontline and a mother drowning her sorrows, Iris’s best bet is winning the columnist promotion at the Oath Gazette.
But when Iris’s letters to her brother fall into the wrong hands – that of the handsome but cold Roman Kitt, her rival at the paper – an unlikely magical connection forms.
Expelled into the middle of a mystical war, magical typewriters in tow, can their bond withstand the fight for the fate of mankind and, most importantly, love?

I had seen this book around and dismissed it, not because I didn’t like the author, because I do (I quite enjoyed her debut novel The Queen’s Rising), but because I have zero interest in stories set in World War I and II.

It wasn’t until the book won the  Goodreads Choice Award Winner for Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction in 2023; and I saw it had a whopping quarter of a million ratings on Goodreads (so how many units did it sell? I hope Ross is doing VERY well!); I saw it had a whopping 4.27 rating from those quarter of a million reviewers; I saw that most of my friends had rated it 5 stars; and I saw that most of the 1 star reviews just didn’t gel with the writing style: well, by then I knew I wanted to read it. I remembered from Ross’ debut novel The Queen’s Rising that I really enjoyed her lyrical, beautiful prose, so I figured that wasn’t going to be an issue with me.

And I was right. I’m not really into epistolary novels either: I know, I know, you’re probably thinking Nemo, what ARE you into? But I know what I like. I knew I liked Ross’ prose, so after all these glowing endorsements, I thought I’d give the book a shot.

And I fell in love almost immediately. Despite me not liking war novels, despite me not liking epistolary novels (and it’s not REALLY epistolary, but there are letters in it), I absolutely was swept away by the gorgeous prose and the charming characters. I was thoroughly engaged the entire time. The novel deals with some incredibly traumatic events, but it just made me care about the characters and find joy even in the dark. I didn’t entirely buy the ‘rivals’ part of the ‘rival to lovers’ because to me, it was incredibly one-sided, but I did really enjoy seeing both points of view of the protagonist and deuteragonist, and I enjoyed seeing them metaphorically remove a piece of armour one by one, and grow vulnerable together. I found it very believable when the quite realistic obstacles came up to keep our lovers from realising their feelings and acting on them.

I even bought myself a new typewriter keyboard so I could be like Iris.

As for the story: predictable? Yes, but not in any detrimental way. When you consume enough media both about wars and romance, you get an idea for how these stories are supposed to work. Being able to predict anything doesn’t mean the story is poor or poorly written: in fact, it often means the opposite, that the author has given you exactly what you expected. And there’s nothing wrong with that, especially in a novel as romantic as this.

I listened to the audiobook, and although I found it a bit jarring at first when a male narrator swept in and started narrating what had, until then, only been delivered by a female narrator, I did enjoy the switch in POV. Both of the narrators delivered emotion and were lovely to listen to.

There is a cliffhanger, but dude, I read Animorphs as it was being released, and now cliffhangers do not have the power to hurt me.

Nemo
Nemo

About Nemo

A lover of kittens and all things sparkly, Nemo has a degree in English Literature and specialises in reviewing contemporary, paranormal, mystery/thriller, historical, sci-fi and fantasy Young Adult fiction. She is especially drawn to novels about princesses, strong female friendships, magical powers, and assassins.

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