As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic. When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic. But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder—and more peril—than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.
With a title like that, I knew I wanted to read this book. Plus, it has magic, princesses forced to flee, and pirates. It sounded like an amazing fantasy book and I definitely wanted to give it a try. Trigger warnings: mentions of sexual abuse, death, violence, emotional and physical abuse
First off, this world is absolutely fantastic. Some of the descriptions of the sea, of the different islands, from the ones that are destroyed, to the ones that are thriving, were so absolutely gorgeous. The way the islands are constructed was really smart. It’s a cool premise, a kingdom consisting of different islands, and different magics are practiced on each of them. It makes for a unique world. Though, it’s so much smarter than it seems. I’m going to stop myself there because I don’t want to spoil anything. I’ll just say it’s brilliantly done.
Along with the world, they way Amora views it was something to behold. She craves adventure; she wants to see the kingdom she is going to rule someday. She wants to go out and see everything she can. That is the complete opposite of me haha. But, it was written so well that I was able to connect with that part of her. I felt her yearning to learn more about her people and see more of her kingdom. She wants to sail and she wants to learn. She has such a deep love her world and for her people and it was so amazing to see everything through her eyes. It was just really awesome.
Amora was also a great character in general. She’s confident in herself. She knows she can rule her people well. She wants it and she knows how to take it. I feel like this isn’t something that’s super common in books, and I found it really cool to see. Her journey wasn’t about finding her strength, it was about her honing her strength. She knows what she can do and she will not apologize for it.
The other side characters were cool too. I liked them, though I didn’t love them. There wasn’t a particular reason, I think it was just the way they were written. Though, they are important to the story and I am looking forward to seeing them in the sequel.
Alright, there were a few things I wasn’t the biggest fan of. To me, it kind of felt like some things were kind of cheesy? Or at least they were written in a way that made them feel cheesy. The way some dialogue was written and how some things were described just made me cringe in the slightest way. For example, how the magic system was described, though that has a deeper meaning that worked out in a really brilliant way. But, it just felt like some things that were supposed to be big and dramatic, fell short. Not quite frivolous, but close to it.
Also, I felt like some reveals were too foreshadowed. I never thought I would complain about that haha. But, I just felt like things were overwhelmingly obvious, and giant signals were pointing to some of the secrets this book was trying to develop. On the flip side though, there were some twists that caught me by surprise and were done really, really well.
One random thing I really enjoyed were the lines that ended the chapters. Dang, Grace really knows how to write dramatic ending lines. A lot of them were really, really fantastic and a lot of them stuck with me.
Overall, this was a really solid book. I will definitely be picking up the sequel and I’m looking forward to seeing where this story goes. I might have had a few things bother me, but the beauty of the world, Amora’s craving to do good by her kingdom, and the brilliant plot twists made it so I really did enjoy this book.