In the land of Montane, language is literal magic to the select few who possess the gift of Telling. This power is reserved for the Bards, and, as everyone knows, the Bards have almost always been men. Seventeen-year-old Shae has lived her entire life in awe of the Bards—and afraid of the Blot, a deadly disease spread by ink, which took the life of her younger brother five years ago. Ever since, Shae fears she’s cursed. But when tragedy strikes again, and her mother is found murdered with a golden dagger—a weapon used only by the Bards—Shae is forced to act. With a heart set on justice, Shae journeys to High House in search of answers. But when the kind, fatherly Cathal, the High Lord of Montane, makes Shae an undeniable offer to stay and train as a Bard, Shae can’t refuse. Through this twisty tale, Shae endures backbreaking training by a ruthless female Bard, tentative and highly-forbidden feelings for a male Bard with a dark past, and a castle filled with dangerous illusions bent on keeping its secrets buried.
Books that have to do with words and ink and writing are ones I’m always wary about. It’s definitely a personal thing, but a lot of the times I don’t end up loving books like those. But I couldn’t help but be intrigued by this one. Ink running through veins from a sickness, a main character fighting for justice, and a magic system based on language that’s restricted to a select few, mostly men. I sounded like something I wanted to try.
While I didn’t hate this book, I didn’t fall completely in love with it either. I just didn’t become fully immersed in it, which I think left it feeling kind of bland to me. Bland in the way that I wanted more and I kept expecting more, and I kept getting things that I wasn’t expecting.
First off, I was surprised by how much language and words weren’t apart of the book? I mean, they did take up a big part, the magic system is literally based on it, but I felt like it was lacking. I felt like words and books and stories and language were in the background, instead of shining in the front. There wasn’t the tension of only a select few being able to speak certain words or overwhelming fear of the power certain words hold. At least, I didn’t feel those things. I just felt like there a part of a magic system and the world, but they didn’t go into too much detail, so I was left wanting more.
Speaking of the world, I thought it was interesting. It was sort of fuzzy on the edges for me, like there were a few things I wanted pulled together more tightly, but I’ll touch more on that in a bit. It’s a world that is dying, and that bareness comes through so starkly. It feels like a world covered in ash and it had a strange beauty to it. And a really cool feel, which I liked!
Strings that wanted to be pulled more tightly; that leads me to the plot. I just, I didn’t like the twists, I didn’t like the build up, and I felt like the ending was sudden. I felt like puzzle pieces were just slightly off and everything didn’t fit together quiet snugly. And I felt like some things were too obvious but other things weren’t obvious enough. I dunno, that’s just how I felt!
I enjoyed Shae’s character. She feels things so deeply and she’s so deeply determined. I didn’t quite get her romantic feelings (I felt like they came out of nowhere and could have used some more development), but I guess I enjoyed seeing them go in a way that I don’t usually see. The romantic relationship as a whole was rocky for me. I felt like it didn’t need to be included or if it was, the slowest of slow burns would have a great affect.
As for all the other characters, I liked them well enough. I liked the ruthless trainer and her motivations. I liked the kind and loyal friend. I kind of liked the nice, but a bit clueless guy. I liked the mysterious guy.
All in all, this book was alright for me. I didn’t hate reading it and actually enjoyed most of it! But there were some things that I wasn’t the biggest fan of. Nevertheless, I’d still recommend giving it a shot if you think you’d like it!