Book Review: Black Snow by EAB

 
 
At the age of 19, Prince Brier gets sent to the land of Aire to train under the huntsman Roland and his guild for a year, but Brier doesn't just learn about skills while he's there, he learns what it means to love when he falls for Roland. Roland thinks himself to broken from his past to give Brier the love that he wants, and he knows they can never be together because of the laws and prejudices in their country, but he finds himself unable to resist Brier despite all that. Their relationship is not without consequences though, consequences that become even more apparent when it comes time for Brier to go back to the palace and rule his country.
 

 
Book Review: Black Snow by EAB | reading, books, book reviews, fantasy, high fantasy, lgbt, m/m
Title: Black Snow
Author:
Publisher:
Pages: 501
My Book Rating: 4.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher
 
Review:

*I received an ecopy of this book from the publisher. This has in no way influenced my review.*

To put it simply, this book was a complex and beautiful love story. The characters were imperfect, and their relationship was imperfect, but they fought for each other, not just against outside obstacles but also their own inner demons and all the struggles that came up between them. There were mistakes and secrets and betrayals, but there was also love, and that was what counted.

This is difficult to review though because the first half (well, more like 35%) and the second half felt really different. I would actually give the first half 4.5 stars and the second 4 stars, but the whole thing was very well-written and I think the minor problems I had with the second half were just personal taste type things, so I rounded up. It still makes the review a bit difficult though, so I’m going to split it up a bit.

In the first half, Brier was sent away and was living in a cabin in the woods, learning things like healing and fighting from Roland and the Ceve guild. It may not sound exciting when I describe it, but around 25% I stopped for a moment and thought to myself how glad I was that I was still only at 25% because I didn’t want the book to ever end. I was so immersed in the world and the story and the characters. While I was reading, I wasn’t home on my couch, I was there with them.

This was also one of the most realistic buildups to a romance I’ve ever read. Since it was high fantasy they ended up in different types of situations than romances set in our world, but the pacing, the way things happened, the struggles, the obstacles, the length of time, the feelings—it was all perfect.

Also, I love when characters do something (in this case it was camping) in which it’s just the two of them or a small group, and they’re in close quarters (like a tent) whether they want to be or not, forced to interact and get to know each other even if things aren’t going well between them. It makes things super character-focused, and there was a lot of that in the first half.

The second half, however, took place back in the palace, so it didn’t have that same cozy intimacy of the forest. It also had a lot more politics—literally, since Brier was running a kingdom.

The second half was also where the mpreg came in. I had never read mpreg before, but it was surprisingly easy to suspend my disbelief. I think the fact that the male pregnancy had a magical explanation and wasn’t a normal thing to the characters either made it easier for me. Really, if I can accept magical abilities and creatures, why not magical mpreg?

What really kind of threw me in the second half though was Roland. In the beginning he seemed so docile and kind and level-headed (that one thing in his past aside). But then he was suddenly bad-tempered and violent and jealous. Don’t get me wrong, I liked that he was legitimately flawed rather than “beautifully flawed,” and in many ways he was so realistic that it weirded me out a little because he reminded me of someone I know in real life. And barring one scene that I was not ok with, he still cared about and supported Brier. It just would’ve made more sense to see that side of him in the first half too. And both Roland and Brier could be a little overdramatic at times but were, for the most part, developed and believable given their situations.

Oh, and that epilogue surprised me. *POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT* Most books portray perfect, happy families, but this family was actually imperfect and impressively realistic—but don’t worry, it was still a happy ending. *END SPOILER ALERT* And it did leave the possibility for a sequel involving different main characters.

One last thing, I want to give major props to the cover artist because not only is the cover gorgeous, it perfectly embodies who the characters are on both the outside and the inside!

So overall, the whole book was intricate, detailed, well thought-out, and complicated, not in a confusing way but in the way that real life would be. The pregnancy and the politics also brought the story in interesting directions sometimes that I didn’t expect but that made sense. Also, the story seemed to be loosely based on or inspired by Snow White (I didn’t realize there were seven guild members until after I finished, that was cute), but it’s not a direct retelling. And now this review has gotten really long so I’m just going wrap this up by saying things were not easy and definitely not perfect for these characters, but I’m so glad I got to read their story!

 
 
Book Blurb

Prince Brier Snow has lived in the shadow of King Snow’s exalted memory. However, his fate changes when he nears his majority and Lirend’s steward queen attempts to dethrone him by exploiting an obscure requirement in the late king’s will: a yearlong sabbatical.

Brier travels to the desolate land of Aire to train under the Ceve guild, scorned refugees of war, including their guarded leader, Roland. Brier’s skillful master unlocks hidden potential, and what begins as a dutiful bond turns into ill-fated affection. When Brier returns to the capital, he’s carrying proof of his indiscretions with Roland—and his condition grows more apparent with each passing day. An affair with the huntsman is a scandal Brier’s enemies can use against him, but the birth of an heir is a burden even Brier is not sure he can bear.

Roland Archer, a man with a murky past, is skeptical of the contract to train the prince but willing to do anything for the guild’s freedom. Despite his best intentions, he is smitten by Lirend’s future king. Roland has resigned himself to solitude, but fate has other plans—for him, for Brier, and for Lirend’s oppressed subjects. Can Roland help Brier face a power-hungry queen and a country torn asunder? Either they will bring equality to a land that desperately needs it, or they’ll be thwarted by cunning enemies and an illusory curse.

Basic Info

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Publisher:
Genre: , , , ,
My Book Rating:
Series/Standalone:
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More Info (Possible Spoilers)

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Extra Love: , ,

Warnings

Sex:
Violence:
Strong Language:

 
 

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  1. Greg

    Nice cover on this one. And I like how immersive the first half or third is- yeah I like those too, tightly character focused stories where you don’t necessarily need action to propel it, but you have fun getting to know the characters. Glad to hear it drew you in.

    Mpreg is new to me ha ha but hey magic, why not? Nice too that there’s no cliffhanger, and it can standalone or be continued if the author decides. Sounds like a pretty good read all the way around.

    Oh and I used the tag on this one. :)

    Greg recently posted: Are You A Seasonal Reader?

    1. Kristen Burns

      Ugh I LOVE this cover. This is one of those books I’m not sure if I would’ve read or not if it hadn’t been for that cover drawing me in. And the tightly focused character aspect was great!

      Exactly lol. There were a few times something was explained that didn’t make physiological sense and I had to remind myself, “It’s magic, Kristen. Don’t dwell on it.” Lol. I mean, I prefer series with the same characters, but this book was 500 pages so I did at least have time to get invested and whatnot, and I actually appreciate that it wasn’t split up into two shorter books because that would’ve been annoying.

      Gah I still don’t know what to do about any of the changes! Lol.

      1. Greg

        To be honest I probably used the tag because I remember you asking about it. lol I can see where it would be more work and so wjy you might want to get rid of it. Are you writing the blurb above the review AND doing the tags? that’s a lot.

        I didn’t realize this was 500 pages.

        I’m not gonna say this looks like a dos Dantos cover because it only kinda does, but it definitely is a style of cover I like. A fantasy illustration that accurately depicts the book. :)

        Greg recently posted: Are You A Seasonal Reader?

        1. Kristen Burns

          I only check boxes for the tags, they work like categories, but it’s still a lot of boxes to check, so it’s kind of a pain. But I was so excited about those tags when I started the blog! Lol. But I do need to cut back on *something* to save a bit of time. But see I think the blurbs I write are better for my SEO, so I’m hesitant to get rid of that… Trying to make decisions makes my brain short circuit.

          I know it’s not a dos Santos, but I’ve been meaning to look up the cover artist just to see if they have any other artwork since it really is gorgeous. You’re right that’s it’s kind of that similar style, but not exactly.

  2. Lola

    Imperfect characters and romance can be great to read about! And they sure seem to have a lot stacked against them with both their inner issues and outside troubles. I can see how it’s hard to review when the first half and second part of a book feel so differently.

    The romance in this one sounds so well done with the realistic build-up! And those situations where characters are forced together in a small space can be very interesting as it often forces issues and attraction to the surface. I feel like a setting can really add something to my enjoyment to a book, so I can see why you liked the part that took part int he cozy forest more than the part in the palace.

    I didn’t realize at first this was the mpreg book you got recently. A magical explanation for male pregnancy does sound like it would make it easier to suspend your disbelief. I rather have personality traits show up in the whole book than only later, although it does make sense some things get worse or displayed more when certain things happen. I can see how it would feel a bit off how Roland didn’t have that temper in the first half of the book.

    And yay for the cover fitting the book so perfectly. It sure is a beautiful cover, but it’s even better when the cover is so perfect for the story. Great review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes, imperfect characters and romances are my favorite! So I liked that the problems didn’t just come from the outside but came from inside the relationship as well. But yeah, it’s always hard to review books when the two halves feel different, though luckily both were still good.

      Exactly! It forces issues and attraction to the surface. That was exactly what it did for these characters.

      Yep, this is the mpreg one! I feel like maybe she had the character more docile in the first half because he was kind of depressed and more existing rather than living, so maybe it makes sense that he wouldn’t have had the jealousy and maybe even the violence since those could be considered more passionate type traits, but bad tempers don’t really tend to completely go away, so I think he should’ve at least had that in the first half too. He was still a well-written character, but it confused me at first.

      It really is a beautiful cover, and I agree, covers are even better when they fit the story perfectly! Thanks!

  3. Let's Get Beyond Tolerance

    Great review! I don’t read a ton of fantasy, but this one sounds really well done. I’m glad the first half focused on the characters a lot and allowed you to get to know them well. Also, I’m glad the mpreg worked well. I think giving things a magical reason makes it work a bit better!

    -Lauren

    Let's Get Beyond Tolerance recently posted: Timekeeper by Tara Sim

  4. Di @ Book Reviews by Di

    Wow – I’ve been interested in this one since the first time you mentioned it here on your blog – I just loved the cover instantly and knew that it was going to be a high fantasy with m/m romance.

    I love how you describe the romance here and it’s great to see that it’s portrayed so realistically and isn’t an insta-lust/love thing. That can be difficult to carry for 500 pages!

    I like that the first part of the book is so intriguing and really drew you in – I’m not sure how I feel about the huge change in setting but seeing you still rating that part 4 stars has me convinced it is still good reading.

    I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes open for this one. Thanks for the great and in depth review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      The cover is so amazing! And apparently it did a perfect job of portraying the genre if you knew it’d be m/m high fantasy!

      Yeah, the progression of the romance was just perfect, but it was so rocky all throughout that it never got boring or anything.

      I understand because I definitely preferred the original setting, but it was still well-written and enjoyable for the rest.

      Glad my review was helpful!!!

  5. Bookworm Brandee

    I don’t read high fantasy but I might be willing to make an exception for this one. I like that at its heart, it’s a love story. And I like that the characters are so flawed and because of that, the development of their relationship is bumpy and ugly at times. I also like that the world building seems so well done. It says a lot for it that you were so immersed. I’m happy you enjoyed the story so well, Kristen. And I totally agree with you about the cover. :)

    1. Kristen Burns

      I didn’t really used to read high fantasy either until recently. If you’re gonna make an exception though, this is definitely a good one! Yes, exactly, the relationship development was bumpy and ugly at times, but I liked that. And it’s always a good thing when a book makes you feel immersed! Thanks! And UGH YES, that cover <3