Emanuela Ragno always gets what she wants. With her daring mind and socialite schemes, she refuses to be the demure young lady everyone wants her to be. In her most ambitious move yet, she’s about to marry Alessandro Morandi, her childhood best friend and the heir to the wealthiest house in Occhia. Emanuela doesn’t care that she and her groom are both gay, because she doesn’t want a love match. She wants power, and through Ale, she’ll have it all. But Emanuela has a secret that could shatter her plans. In the city of Occhia, the only source of water is the watercrea, a mysterious being who uses magic to make water from blood. When their first bruise-like omen appears on their skin, all Occhians must surrender themselves to the watercrea to be drained of life. Everyone throughout history has given themselves up for the greater good. Everyone except Emanuela. She’s kept the tiny omen on her hip out of sight for years. When the watercrea exposes Emanuela during her wedding ceremony and takes her to be sacrificed, Emanuela fights back…and kills her. Now Occhia has no one to make their water and no idea how to get more. In a race against time, Emanuela and Ale must travel through the mysterious, blood-red veil that surrounds their city to uncover the secrets of the watercrea’s magic and find a way to save their people-no matter what it takes.
A world where water is made from blood, where only one person can create that water. And that one person dies. Yes, from the very second I learned what this book is about I was extremely eager to read it. I was lucky enough to win a copy from CouchFest, which was run by NOVL! I was very ready to devour this book. Trigger warnings: cannibalism, eye horror, blood, gore
This book makes words come up the back of my throat, ready to burst out, but get stuck there. They eek out in a semi-silent scream because this book makes me feel so much. That’s a very long way of saying this book makes me want to scream into the sky about how good it is. Seriously, this book is ruthlessly good.
Emanuela is a horrible person. She says cruel things, her actions hurt people, and she craves power. I completely adored her. She’s ruthless. This is a book about the lines she will cross the things she will do for what she deems worthy. She’s incredibly ambitious. Sometimes the things she says cut to the bone and sometimes the things she does has dire consequences. I loved how everything she did was completely unapologetic. She knows her intelligence, she knows what she wants, and she knows how she wants to get it. Everything about her character was so incredibly well done. You can’t help but want to know more about her and you can’t help but fall into her motivations.
Ale surprised me. He wasn’t anything like I expected. He’s the sweetness to Emanuela’s cruelty. He’s so incredibly sweet and kind. I loved how he contrasted with Emanuela; he wanted to do everything in his power to avoid hurting people, while she was willing to do absolutely anything to get her way. It was interesting that he wasn’t the POV character, since characters like him usually are. I loved seeing him from a supportive role. I also just loved him overall because he’s awkward and adorable.
I also loved the friendship between Emanuela and Ale. They’re best friends. That’s just a fact of this universe. I loved how both of them were both so sure of that, even if their relationship wasn’t completely smooth sailing.
And the world, wow. It was simple, in that it was contained. It’s shrouded in mystery, but with the promise of secrets to be revealed. It’s a city surrounded by a blood red veil with minimal water. Just the premise is fascinating. I also loved how information is slowly dripped into the book. Slowly, more things are revealed, but so much is kept shrouded in mystery. There’s dark secrets that are kept, where the magic comes from, what the veil is, what certain monsters are, how water is made, THE CATACOMBS. If you think this book couldn’t get any cooler, but this book has CATACOMBS. They’re dark and creepy and just a little bit terrifying. They’re deep and have secrets of their own. Really, this world is amazing and it left me incredibly eager for more.
This book is ruthless. It’s bloody. THE EYES. Seriously, the eyes. I always thought this book got as disturbing and horrifying as it could, but then it went deeper. None of these characters are afraid to cross lines. They’re not afraid to do horifying things. Just, it’s so bloody and so ruthless, but it’s bloody and ruthless in a way that left me breathless.
The pace of this book was very fast. The writing also read really fast, making this book fly by. At first, I thought it was going to move a bit too fast, but everything evened out! It made the entire book feel breathless.
This book is incredibly queer, but in such a casual way. Both Ale and Emanuela are gay and that’s that. It’s not a huge part of this book, but it is there.
This book is a bloody smile, it’s redness seeping through the sky, it’s dark secrets hidden in every single crevice. This book is just the tip of the iceberg. I feel like the sequel has so much to offer. The ending leaves everything on the precipice, hidden things aching to be uncovered. I loved everything about this book, Emanuela the ruthless girl, the world shrouded in red, the bloody horribleness, the secrets that are held tight, and everything about this book that made my eyes widen and my breath catch. It’s so incredibly amazing.