In the middle of nothingness is the continent of Salvation. Reality bends easily here. Villages disappear. Forests burn forever. Pockets of inconsistent time are everywhere, their boundaries strung with yellow ribbon. And the three kingdoms of Salvation have been at war for a thousand years. But the greatest threat is the Malice, an incursion from the demon plane slowly tearing its way through the world’s weakest seams. Seams that–once split–will lead to the total unraveling of night and day, light and dark, life and death. Not that the human world takes much interest. Of more concern is the upcoming marriage of Rune Highcrown, Prince of Caberwill, and Johanne Fortuin, Princess of Embria–the serpent bride, a girl of famous cunning–which offers a possible end to the ancient conflict. But Rune has noticed the growing darkness, and he is determined to summon mankind’s only defense: Nightrender, the hammer of the gods, an immortal warrior more weapon than girl. There is only one problem. The last time she was summoned, she slaughtered every royal in Salvation, and no one knows why. Will she save humanity from the Malice… or plunge it deeper into the fires of eternal war?
While I hadn’t read any Jodi Meadows books yet, I was incredibly eager about this one. A book where the world is swathed in darkness, but humanity is more interested in the royal wedding that is about to take place between two kingdoms that have a long history of fighting. It sounded darkly thrilling, and I was very, very intrigued.
I ended up liking this book a lot more than I thought I was going to, while also not liking certain things at the same time. I think it is a very solid book, one that I enjoyed, and is incredibly smart at what it is trying to do. There were just certain things that I had a few problems with.
First off, the world is incredible. It’s incredibly vast and as dark as it promises to be. There is such a depth behind everything, from the political arrangements to the magic system. It’s a world that has a long and bloody history, and the time that has passed throughout the lifespans of these kingdoms is felt in every move that is made. It’s a world that has a lot going for it, and everything about it is fascinating. Though, at the same time, I felt like there was just a smidge too much going on. There is a lot of elements that go into making up this world, and pretty much all of them play a big role in the plot. It makes the book as a whole feel slightly busy, and slightly rushed in places. I wanted to know more about everything about this world because, again, it is so incredibly fascinating, but there is just so much going. There are so many elements at play. I feel like perhaps having less of them could’ve evened out the pacing, but that’s just me!
I was surprised by how much I came to like the characters. I wasn’t sure about basically all three POV characters, but I actually ended up really liking them all. The pureness that some strive too, the one that seems like the villain and only devolves as the book goes on, the one that is trying to find their place when there is so much expected of them.
The one thing I did not love about the characters were their relationships. I wanted more out of them, I think. There was so much opportunity to explore the depths of relationship between humans in the face of violence and horror, about the yearning for connection, about searching for someone who understands in a world that seems to be throwing absolutely everything it can to destroy those inhabit it. But, I felt like they sort of just fell flat. There was one where I think the inkling of a fantastic dynamic is coming about, but I wanted more from the rest.
There is also a romance that I was not a fan of at all. It seemed so Typical YA, and I just don’t think it was necessary. This is probably because I feel like one of the characters is aro, and also because I feel like a friendship, stressing the need for human connection, would have been amazing. Maybe this is because I felt like the romance was underdeveloped, because there is so much going on with the world, but I do really wish just a friendship was developed. I just wanted more depth to it.
I was a huge fan of the darkness and the anger and the scheming that takes up much of this book. It was incredibly done, and it was done so, so well.
Overall, I did enjoy this book. There were some things that I didn’t love, but I still ended up really liking it.