published: 28th April 2020
spoilers? tried to avoid (& flagged if there are)
I am Renata Convida.
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.
Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.
Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned “hollow” during her time in the palace.
When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez’s top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.
But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything.
Galley provided by publisher
CWs: gore, violence, torture
I think it’s time to accept that me and YA fantasy more often than not nowadays just don’t get along. This will be a good book for the right person; I am evidently not the right person.
Right off the bat, I wasn’t that invested in the story, and that’s because of the romance. There is an established relationship in this book and, to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t see what there was to like about it. And the entire plot is really predicated on this relationship. So you really do have to like it. And I did not. So you can imagine where my first issues stemmed from.
The plot also, outside of the worldbuilding, felt rather formulaic. Like the sort of thing I have definitely read before. I know YA high fantasy may not be well-known for having a variety of plots and all, but this one just felt more formulaic than most (I can name two books off the top of my head which follow the same pattern, almost to a T). Even as the worldbuilding was fascinating (more on that in a second), the plot was just disappointing. Although, after the ending, I might be convinced to read the second book…
But enough of the negatives, let’s focus on why you might want to ignore me (please do) and read it anyway.
The worldbuilding. It’s excellent, basically. It’s well-created and unique and what you need to know about it is most definitely not info-dumped (pet peeve). It easily lets you imagine yourself there without getting bogged down in it. Oh, and it’s a world without homophobia and it drops that in very casually, which I loved.
The plot twists. Granted, this is a bit of a double-edged one, because I (somewhat cynically) guessed both plot twists (they aren’t that surprising, really). But they’re good. And they leave you in an interesting position at the end with a betrayal of trust and everything. Hence why I might actually continue the series, despite my rating for this one.
The characters. While I wasn’t a huge fan of that particular relationship I already mentioned, I did like the characters, for the most part. Yes, occasionally Ren felt a little like oh woe is me I’m a monster, but really, I’d rather see that in a female character than a male one. (And honestly, if she did go on to take her revenge on everyone, I would not be opposed.)
Ultimately, then, this was just a book that didn’t suit me. So ignore my rating, ignore (most of) my review, and pick it up for yourself.