Shortly afterwards, the author offered me the chance to participated in a blog tour for the two books. Given that I read so much better to a deadline, I agreed to review this first book, so here it is!
Our main characters, Zeraphina, is a princess from the House of Amentia, a noble but poor land where even just the daily struggle to survive is getting harder and harder for the people. Luckily there is every likelihood that life is going to improve even just a little thanks to the fact that Zeraphina's older sister, Lilith, is betrothed to a handsome prince which should lead to trade agreements and so much more. However, life can change in a heartbeat and when suddenly Lilith is once again single thanks to the death of her fiance the Queen, Renata, knows that she much move fast to find another husband for Lilith.
Where Lilith is golden haired with fair skin, Zeraphina is almost her complete opposite - her hair is only a couple of shades away from blackest black and her skin is pale. It is however not only her external appearance that makes our heroine as being different to everyone else. There is also the small matter of the thirst for blood that comes up on her, the odd pets that she owns (Leap the cat and Griffin the eagle who just about steal the limelight every time they appear on the page) and an almost unnatural talent with the bow and arrow. What Zeraphina doesn't know is why she is different. Her mother insists that she is the natural daughter of the deceased king, and that she changed as a result of a childhood illness, but why is she so different to everyone else, and why does she feel a strong pull towards the northern lands.
It doesn't take Renata long to set her sights on Prince Amis of Pergamia as a potential husband for her eldest daughter and so the family travels north. Zeraphina hopes that she will be able to find out more about her own strange yearnings and also about the land of Lharmel. She just knows that this place is important and given that nearly every reference to the land has been moved from the texts of her homeland this is her chance to learn.
One of the first people she is introduced to on arrival is Rodden Lothskorn. He is advisor to the royal family of Pergamia and he and Zeraphina instantly dislike each other.
Then I remembered what Renata had said about protocol. Maybe it was written in stone that arrogant jerks had to lead the younger sisters of future queens of the nation through to dinner.It soon becomes clear that Rodden has secrets of his own, and if he would only share some of his knowledge he may well help Zeraphina learn more about who and what she is.
It was rather hard on younger sisters, I thought.
As I was reading this book I was trying to figure out which author I was reminded of, and in the end I decided that it was the Study series by Maria V Snyder. Some of the reasons why I think that is the that the kind of faux-medieval world that is not all that much different from our own world albeit with pretty modern language, an interesting female lead character plus a touch of romance. I guess the phrase that I am grasping for is fantasy-lite.
I liked the world that the author created. The Lharmellian's are suitably horrible creatures, and the journey that Zeraphina and Rodden undertake is epic in scope, with danger and drama on every page. As individual characters, both Zeraphina and Rodden are interesting. Whilst Zeraphina does occasionally make decisions that have the reader shaking your head in disbelief, she does recognise that in herself and is suitably self-chastised. The other good thing is that once they start to work together, the two of them are clearly partners and it is not a case that Zeraphina needs to be saved by a hero.
At 290 pages, this book is an easy, quick read which is great if you just want a fast, entertaining read. I found myself wanting a little more depth in the interactions between the various characters and a little more world building. Thankfully, the book doesn't end on a major cliffhanger, and I am intrigued enough to want to keep reading the next book in the series.
To visit other people on the tour and to find out more about the author and her books, check out the following links
Rhiannon Hart's Facebook page
Rhiannon Hart on Twitter
Rhiannon Hart's blog
You can read the first chapter of the second book, Blood Storm, at the following link:
Thanks to Rhiannon Hart for inviting me to participate in the blog tour.
I wanted to turn but I was held captive by the song on the wind. I’m coming, I told the voices. Please, wait for me.This book counts for the following challenges:
When her sister becomes betrothed to a prince in a northern nation, Zeraphina’s only consolations are that her loyal animal companions are by her side – and that her burning hunger to travel north is finally being sated.
Already her black hair and pale eyes mark her out as different, but now Zeraphina must be even more careful to keep her secret safe. Craving blood is not considered normal behaviour for anyone, let alone a princess. So when the king’s advisor, Rodden, seems to know more about her condition than she does, Zeraphina is determined to find out more.
Zeraphina must be willing to sacrifice everything if she’s to uncover the truth – but what if the truth is beyond her worst nightmares