- Author: Joan He
- Series: Standalone
- Genre: Fantasy
- No. of pages: 400
- Dates read: 24.01.21 – 30.01.21
- Star Rating: 3 stars
Plot: Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her. Hesina’s court is packed full of dissemblers and deceivers eager to use the king’s death for political gain, each as plausibly guilty as the next. Her advisers would like her to blame the neighboring kingdom of Kendi’a, whose ruler has been mustering for war. Determined to find her father’s actual killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death, since magic was outlawed centuries ago. Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of Yan at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?
So, this was another book I bought due to the hype I saw on twitter and while I enjoyed it, it didn’t blow me away.
I really liked the idea of a murder mystery set in a fantasy setting, especially when the mode of killing was through magic which, in this world, is forbidden and prohibited. My main struggle was keeping the balance between the political storyline and mystery storyline. I preferred the mystery storyline over the political one but at times the mystery was forgotten altogether and I started to lose interest. I think this was mainly due to, when I was reading the mystery elements the pacing was fast and super fun but when it came to political side of the novel the pacing slowed right down and took me out of the story. I love fantasy politics, I find it super exciting but this time round I just wasn’t as invested and I think it was due to the pacing.
The writing style was good, I felt that it flowed very nicely and was very beautiful. I just struggled with the structuring of the novel. The beginning and the end was really interesting but I struggled with the middle of the book in maintaining my interest.
The plot was really really good. The main mystery plot line was incredibly enjoyable and everything tied together nicely and it all made sense. I loved the secrecy in investigating what was happening due to the mode of death being magic, I really liked Hesnia and her Detective slowly trying to unravel the case battling every twist and turn that came a long the way.
The characters were also really enjoyable. I liked Hesnia, I thought she was a strong character. I really enjoyed exploring the relationship dynamic she had with both her biological brother and her adopted siblings. That was one of the most interesting aspects of the story watching them interact with one another.
I found the world to be really exciting. I loved the magic system, the setting of the royal palace and history of this country. I am trying to branch out from the classic western medieval Lord of the Rings esc settings so it was really refreshing to be in a world so different from the other books that I have read in the past. He does a great job of painting a beautiful picture of the countryside and the towns.
The thing is here is despite all of those lovely elements I couldn’t connect to the story and by the time I was fully engaged, the book was nearly finished. I think if the book was more focused on the mystery I probably would have rated it higher.
The next book I will be reviewing Death Going Down by Maria Angelica Bosco.