- Author: Makiia Lucier
- Series: Standalone
- Genre: Mystery
- No. of pages: 363
- Dates read: 29.10.21 – 02.11.21
- Star Rating: 3.5 stars
- ARC Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
- Date Published: 09.11.21
Plot: The past never forgets . . . Before an ambush by enemy soldiers, Lord Cassia was an engineer’s apprentice on a mission entrusted by the king. But when plague sweeps over the land, leaving countless dead and devastating the kingdom, even Cas’ title cannot save him from a rotting prison cell and a merciless sickness. Three years later, Cas wants only to return to his home in the mountains and forget past horrors. But home is not what he remembers. His castle has become a refuge for the royal court. And they have brought their enemies with them. When an assassin targets those closest to the queen, Cas is drawn into a search for a killer…one that leads him to form an unexpected bond with a brilliant young historian named Lena. Cas and Lena soon realize that who is behind the attacks is far less important than why. They must look to the past, following the trail of a terrible secret—one that could threaten the kingdom’s newfound peace and plunge it back into war.
First of all, thank you Netgalley and Hodder and Stoughton for a copy of this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Going into this book I didn’t have any expectations whatsoever. I was just really intrigued by the premise and thought I would give it ago.
Starting off with the writing. I thought the writing was pretty consistent throughout the novel in terms of pacing and dialogue. One stand out thing is that I wish the mystery was structured better. Everything else was structured and paced really well but the main core mystery started off super strong but sort of felt rushed by the end of it. When it came to the big confrontation at the end I was disappointed with how quickly it finished as we had worked so hard to reach this moment. I did really enjoy the pacing of the romance. I am slowly becoming a romance fan more and more with each book I read but the romance was actually the part I was the most invested in. It was written really well.
The plot itself was interesting. I really enjoyed all the political elements of the novel, as I am getting older I am loving political drama in my novels more and more. I really enjoyed learning about the lore/history of the world and civil war that is the background of this novel and I felt that it was weaved super well throughout the book. Like I mentioned above, I wish the mystery part had been structured better. We spent a lot of time working up to the big final moment and it just fell flat. It was over as quickly as it started and certain elements felt quite convenient to the plot. There were other elements that genuinely took me by surprise which was super enjoyable but I feel the second half of the novel didn’t do the justice the first half set up which was a shame.
Cas as a protagonist was super enjoyable. I really liked his POV. I felt that the exploration into the effects his time in prison had on him were discussed and represented really well. I liked how the book showed how he had changed due to the trauma he faced but didn’t excuse any rude or bad behaviour but also gave grace to his past experiences. There is only one thing that I wasn’t sure on. He has an ability in this novel that never really gets explained and I never really understood why it was important to the novel. It felt like a weird addition to me as you could easily have removed it and it wouldn’t have affected the plot at all. But apart from that I really liked him as a character.
Overall, I thought this was a really solid debut with a great main character, romance and setting. It just wish the ending hadn’t felt so rushed.