When her village is evacuated as part of the war against the Sleeping Prince, Errin is left desperate and homeless. The only person she can turn to is the mysterious Silas, a young man who buys deadly poisons from Errin, but won’t reveal why he needs them. Silas promises to help her, but when he vanishes, Errin must journey across a kingdom on the brink of war to seek another way to save her mother and herself. But what she finds shatters everything she believed about her world, and with the Sleeping Prince drawing nearer, Errin must make a heartbreaking choice that could affect the whole kingdom.
Blurb from GoodReads:
Ever since her brother Lief disappeared, Errin’s life has gone from bad to worse. Not only must she care for her sick mother, she has to scrape together rent money by selling illegal herbal cures. But none of that compares to the threat of the vengeful Sleeping Prince whom the Queen just awoke from his enchanted sleep.
Ok, so there was a lot about this I liked, first of all:
-Silas is an utter fantasy-novel DREAMBOAT. *Swoon*
-There are NO LOVE TRIANGLES. Hurrah!
-I utterly loved all the references to the unique, folktale-like mythology behind the Tregellian kingdom. The tale of Aurek (the malevolent Sleeping Prince) and his sister Aurelia, the story of the Death Bringer and the Rat Catcher’s Daughter, the Scarlet Varulv…this was all fascinating, and reminded me of Leigh Bardugo’s ‘The Witch of Duva’ (review here,) although this time the general flavour seemed more European/mediaeval rather than Russian- occasionally a little jarring as some parts felt more Russian-esque.
-I loved that, in this book, NO-ONE wanted the fairy tales to come true.
-Errin is Lief’s sister, and Lief was one of the main characters of this book’s predecessor, ‘The Sin Eater’s Daughter’ (review here.) I really like how this novel was from her POV, instead of from Twylla’s (who I found a bit irritating at times.)
-Judging both books together, I also found Errin and Silas’s blossoming relationship far more interesting than Lief and Twylla’s.
-Errin struck me as vulnerable, but also fiercely independent and ambitious, in a community where independence is not encouraged.
-I looooooved all the references to alchemy. More alchemy references please! 🙂
-Wait, there are golems? Golems are SO COOL. Fact. Although I have a hard time thinking of them as malevolent for some reason.
-The chemistry between Silas and Errin was ON POINT.
-Zero Merek. This was a good thing- I never liked Merek’s character in TSED.
Things I was not so sure about:
-Like TSED, this seemed slow paced in parts, but at times almost too slow paced for my liking
-It’s pretty clear nothing happens in Errin’s village.
-I wasn’t keen on the prologue from Aurek’s POV- evil prince laying waste to a city? It felt kind of ‘done before’, and didn’t particularly grip me.
-And er, what exactly is wrong with Errin’s mother? Is it a disease/mental illness, or something supernatural? This could have been expanded on. If it is mental illness, I’m also not entirely sure whether portraying her as feral and beast-like is as sensitive a depiction of mental illness as it could be, IMHO.
-Parts felt really dull at points- there was a lot of running about in forests and sleeping in hovels, etc. And Errin going on about how her home was such a hovel, etc.
-Kirrin felt like an unnecessary character
-At one point, Silas’s hair is described as ‘double crowned.’ What does this mean? It’s never explained and left me feeling puzzled.
-I missed all the vivid descriptions of ‘sin eating’ that peppered TSED
-When references to Twylla’s ‘Naet and Daeg’ (Night and Day) religion cropped up, I had to suppress a groan, as this felt contrived and a bit dull in comparison to Errin’s fairytales.
With all this in mind, there were parts of this I liked, but it didn’t grip me as much as TSED. I kept on falling out of sync with it. I just wish it had a bit more action in the middle part, a bit more bite, and slightly more endearing characters.
Overall rating: 6 out of 10
Read if you enjoyed: ‘Shadow and Bone’ by Leigh Bardugo (review here)
Favourite Character: Silas
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