*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has not influenced my review.*
I’ve never watched a soap opera, but this book was what I imagine a soap opera would be like, just with a fantasy setting and more drugs. It started out decadent and sexy with the characters pretty much just having sex, drinking drugged tea, gossiping, and caring about nothing more than what was fashionable. By the end, it was full of scheming, conniving, treachery, and murder.
My favorite thing about this book though was the main character himself, Vaun Dray Fen. That’s an awesome name. It’s so awesome that it screams “trying too hard,” except that’s what makes it so perfect for this book and this character. Vaun was one if those characters who shouldn’t have been likeable but kind of was anyway. He was a jerk, but the author really nailed his voice and managed to make it sound different from the others, so he was interesting and, at times, entertaining. He spent a hundred years living in this realm where there was no real meaning to anything anymore, so he got high and had orgies and partied and ate cake and had his photos plastered all over the newspapers and just didn’t care about any of it. The only things he did care about were 1) his body, 2) good jackets, and 3) always being alone in bathrooms. But as the story went on, some things happened, and he started to care more about some things and people. In many ways, he was still a jerk, so it was a small enough change to be believable, but still a big enough change to make him a little more likeable.
Other random things you should know about this book:
– The characters all had lots of tea parties.
– Except the tea was spiked with a drug that was literally made of magic.
– Murderous pixies.
– Ghostly wolves that steal people’s souls.
I only have a couple complaints. One is that there were quite a few POVs, all of which might not have been necessary, but, taking into account the whole soap opera thing, it makes sense that the author was trying to show us what was going on with all the different characters and make sure we got the important information. My other complaint is that the plot felt a little aimless. It was a good story, but I like to know what the goal is so that I know the characters are getting closer, and I never knew what the goal was. The pacing was also kind of slow for most of the book.
Overall though, this was a decadent, unique, magic-and-intrigue-filled book with an oddly likeable main character!
*Note: I categorized this as high fantasy since it was set in another realm, but it’s not your typical high fantasy and has more of a paranormal/urban fantasy vibe in some ways.
*Updated to add: GUYS. THE SECOND BOOK WAS AMAZING. All the complaints I had about this book were fixed, and I absolutely recommend this series if it sounds at all interesting to you!
Anyone who likes fantasy with some darkness, unique worlds, interesting characters, magic, intrigue, beautiful writing, and just a touch of absurdity.
More Books in the Series:
In the Realm there are whispers. Whispers that the city used to be a different place. That before the Queen ruled there was a sky beyond the clouds and a world beyond their streets.
Vaun Dray Fen never knew that world. Born a prince without a purpose in a Realm ruled by lavish indulgence, unrelenting greed, and vicious hierarchy, he never knew a time before the Queen’s dust drugged the city. Everything is poisoned to distract and dull the senses, even the tea and pastries. And yet, after more than a century, his own magic is beginning to wake. The beautiful veneer of the Realm is cracking. Those who would defy the Queen turn their eyes to Vaun, and the dust saturating the Realm.
From the carnivorous pixies in the shadows to the wolves in the streets, Vaun thought he knew all the dangers of his city. But when whispers of treason bring down the fury of the Queen, he’ll have to race to save the lives and souls of those he loves.