In an empire on the brink of war . . . Ahn is no one, with no past and no family. Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen away as a child. When they meet, Altan sees in Ahn a path to reclaiming the throne. Ahn sees a way to finally unlock her past and understand her arcane magical abilities. But they may have to pay a far deadlier price than either could have imagined.
I have seen so much love for this book online, and with a tagline like “Her destiny, his revenge”, I was incredibly eager to read it. And the cover! There was so much pulling me towards this book. And it’s about an empire that is one the brink of war, a girl who has no past, and a boy who is desperate to claim the throne that was stolen from him. It sounded amazing. Trigger warnings: grief, self-harm, torture
Holy heck, this book is so, so good. It absolutely deserves every single praise it has gotten, and more. It has the feeling of a book that is going to be HUGE, and for good reason.
Everything about this book is incredibly vivid and vibrant. It leans into it’s epic fantasy elements, and it leans into them well. It has a sweeping world, with an empire so close to the brink of war all it would take in a single breath fall over the edge. It has magic, which divides the world and creates fraught politics. It has a history that might not be truth, and the truth might be even more devastating. Really, it is a book that knows what it is doing, and it does everything extremely, extremely well.
This book is also extremely character driven, and I love them all. The two MCs are complete dorks, but I adore them. Altan is tortured and desperate for revenge. He also only has one eye. Ahn is stubborn, passionate, and just has this goodness at her core. Then there are the side characters, and they a huge part of what made the book as strong as it was. They have their own lives, their own ambitions, and even their own romances (oh my gosh I love them so much). Truly, every single character was amazing, and they all felt so real, and completely like teenagers.
This book is also full of wonderful tropes. There’s the dagger under the chin, there’s only one bed, mutual pining (SO MUCH PINING), and more, but those veer into spoiler territories. This book is about two dorks who are trying to fight their feelings going on a trip to try and accomplish their individual goals. That is basically the whole book. And it is absolutely wonderful.
And just, the plot of this book is constructed so well. And paired with the world and the characters, it’s incredible. A boy seeking revenge and his throne, and a girl who has unsettling magic. There are lies piled on top of lies, and secrets that lurk in the corners. And it’s so, so well done.
I will say, there were certain parts of this book that I felt were a bit fast. Not plot wise, but I felt like certain lines were delivered quickly, when they could have been drawn out to increase the dramatic effect. Though, I think this is truly a personal thing, and it didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the book at all!
I adored this book so much. It feels like a cool liquid sliding down your throat and it snuggles itself right next to your heart. It is incredible.