Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 464 pages
Author: Amélie Wen Zhao
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: November 19th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads
In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.
When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.
A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.
MORAL GRAYNESS ABOUNDS.
And y’all. That sometimes makes for a really good book.
Don’t you love characters that have a hard time making a good decision, but you know do care deep down about the greater good? ME TOO. That’s how I felt reading about practically all of the characters in this book. Everyone had their own agenda, yet would reach out to help others, then turn around and stab them in the back, to really actually be helping them. AH. It was awesome to turn each page not knowing who’s side everyone was on.
I loved watching Ana learn to love her powers and herself. While she still has a long way to go, it was amazing watching her eyes continually open wider as her world was expanded and the deeds of her kingdom come to light. On the path to forging a better world, wrongs must be acknowledged before they can be righted.
The entire story line actually leans to a darker nature of book. I was impressed to find that the hype around this book was more or less on point. My girl Ana COULD NOT CATCH A BREAK. Goodness gracious. It was almost too much. I felt like she would get through one battle scene, turn around and there would be someone else getting stabbed who needed her help (or that someone was trying to stab her). I would have loved to have some more quiet, building moments than allllllll the action that was given. Did make more a lively tale at least.
I am so into the very little burgeoning romance happening with Ramson. He lives in a realm of grayness and it makes me love him more. I liked getting some POV chapters from him and learning the sins of his past. It makes both Ana and Ramson characters you shouldn’t necessarily like, but appreciate the ways they are trying to be better. Ramson is witty and always ready with a comeback and the banter with Ana just made me happy.
Will I read the next book? Definitely. This is a series I can’t wait to continue reading!
Overall audience notes:
- Young adult fantasy
- Language: a little
- Romance: banter/flirting
- Violence: magical, physical, arrows, swords, knives, poison; somewhat bloody/gory
- Trigger warnings: Ch. 4 – a remembrance of an attempted suicide by drowning (by the main character); racism, human trafficking and slavery