Genre: Fantasy/Young Adult
Length: 525 pages
I’m amazed I picked up a book that was published so recently. I’ve been noticing a lot of hype surrounding this book so while at a Waterstones in York I picked this up. The premise sounded intriguing so even though YA fantasy is not my thing I decided to give it a chance. Since starting the book, I’ve noticed that not only has the book been featured by a lot of booktubers and bookstagrammers but the author has done a lot of press and interviews following the book’s release. So I couldn’t help but thinking, does this book live up to the hype?
In this world different kinds of magic use to be wielded by diviners. Now magic has died. The plot follows a Zelie, her brother Tzain and princess Amari. All have suffered at the hands of a ruthless king who seeks to oppress and kill diviners. However, Zelie has learned of a way to restore all magic which might give diviners the chance to finally fight back…but there’s a catch.
“Reality told us we would fail. But again and again, we fought. We perserved . We rose.”
The book follows three POV’s: Zelie, Amari and Inan, the prince who stands in the way of magic being brought back. At first, Zelie was an interesting character as she carried a lot of trauma and suffering having witnessed her mother’s death. She feels the burden of the oppression of her people and finds it hard to swallow down the rage she feels because of it.
Amari is very different from Zelie. Amari fears her father is not exactly a father. However, after witnessing a horrible act committed by him, she tries to find the strength to fight on behalf of diviners. I thought her character was all right at first but later on, her character evolves and by the time I was finished, I was rooting for her all the way. She was probably my favorite character.
Inan will probably be one of the least likable characters of all. He struggles with what his father has taught him all his life and the new truths he begins to discover about diviners and himself. His internal struggle may be meant to sympathize with his character in some way but he’s really just a douche.
“I teach you to be warriors in the garden so you will never be gardeners in the war.”
The book is heavily influenced by African culture and seems to be enjoying some Black Panther-like success which is great. The magic system is rather straightforward: diviners are divided into those who can manipulate water, fire, death, disease and so forth. At first, the characters seem somewhat interesting but the novelty fades after a bit: you sympathize with Zelie’s pain and rage but there are times when her trauma is mentioned so many times to give emotional depth I found myself feeling numb and unresponsive to it. As a character, Zelie starts out strong but later makes some questionable choices. Amari is my MVP by the end of the book and Inan…I don’t even want to talk about him.
Be warned for those who don’t like romances, the one in this book is slightly frustrating, to say the least. It’s one of those romances where you’re like…really? With HIM? After he did that? and that? and THAT? But I digress.
Does it live up to the hype? I’m sure for YA fantasy lovers this might be a home run. For a dabbler of the genre like me? There were moments I enjoyed, others where I rolled my eyes a little but all in all it’s an entertaining read with some good moments…like the one with Zelie and Amari towards the end! It hit me right in the feels!
Has anyone thought about reading this after all the attention it’s gotten?
If you’ve read it what did you think?
3 out of 5 mortars