Goodreads Rating: 4.24 Stars
Purple Monkey Press Publishing
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The winding streets and narrow alleys of Karolene hide many secrets, and Hitomi is one of them. Orphaned at a young age, Hitomi has learned to hide her magical aptitude and who her parents really were. Most of all, she must conceal her role in the Shadow League, an underground movement working to undermine the powerful and corrupt Arch Mage Wilhelm Blackflame.
When the League gets word that Blackflame intends to detain—and execute—a leading political family, Hitomi volunteers to help the family escape. But there are more secrets at play than Hitomi’s, and much worse fates than execution. When Hitomi finds herself captured along with her charges, it will take everything she can summon to escape with her life.
Quick Reasons: unique world-building; this read had me snared from the start; intriguing, complex, strong characters; just a few confusing plot points; vampires of a different, unique calibre; the story is easy to sink into; I meant to only read 50% of this today, but finished it without realizing!; entertaining, snarky, and full of awesome
Goodness, guys. I meant to only read a small portion of this today…and found myself flipping frantically through the pages until the very end!
This was a wild, enthralling read from start to finish—and it’s a short read, so you KNOW I was dying for more even as the end was fast approaching! The prose is gorgeous; melodic, atmospheric, with just a hint of the poetic to set the tone and carry the mood throughout. There are a number of confusing moments, mostly surrounding certain plot points. For instance, near the end of the novel, our MC loses her memories…but I wasn’t aware of this until it had been pointed out by another character. I feel that in these moments, the abstract writing was a bit heavier than it should have been—it complicated what might have easily been explained by the narrator, instead of relying upon dialogue to get the point across.
There are also, obviously, a LOT of huge questions concerning the world-building. While we get a fair amount, not everything is explained at surface-level; instead, readers are left to figure things out on their own or from reading between the lines. Certain answers we, as readers, might expect to come easily are not revealed until much later in the read than expected. There are a bunch of different creatures contained in these pages, though it’s not explained clearly WHY they exist or how they all get along. We are told (only after the first half has gone by!) that this takes place in an “Elven Kingdom” of sorts, and that there are other worlds/portals…but we’re not told much more than that. There are obviously pretty high tensions between the different races/species…but again, we don’t exactly know why, or what these tensions are, unless a character goes out of their way to explain it.
However—don’t let this stop you from picking up the read! This story ensnares you from the start, and keeps you churning pages until the very end. The action scenes are fast-paced and entertaining. The characters LEAP to life before your eyes. The snark is on-point: full of flair, drama, and awesome. I found myself smirking each time our MC got herself into a pickle, knowing the snark would be clever and cutting despite the danger of her situation. Also, a few of the characters surprised me. One, in particular, took an unexpectedly gentle turn…and left me wondering just what his role will be in book two.
This novella was a fun, quick read, and I can’t wait to dive into the second book to find out what fates await our cast of characters. Does Hitomi find her memories? Learn just what sort of magic she possesses? Find her way home to family and friends? I don’t know—but I’m anxious to find out! I highly recommend this to lovers of fantasy, action/adventure, and vibrant, colorful world-building. Also: vampires! Because they exist in this world, but…not quite in the ways you might expect.