(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Published by HarperCollins Publishers on March 8th 2018
Genres: Action & Adventure, General, Historical, Love & Romance, Young Adult
When her seventeenth summer solstice arrives, Brienna desires only two things: to master her passion and to be chosen by a patron.
Growing up in the southern Kingdom of Valenia at the renowned Magnalia House should have prepared her for such a life. While some are born with an innate talent for one of the five passions—art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge—Brienna struggled to find hers until she belatedly chose to study knowledge. However, despite all her preparations, Brienna’s greatest fear comes true—the solstice does not go according to plan and she is left without a patron.
Months later, her life takes an unexpected turn when a disgraced lord offers her patronage. Suspicious of his intent, and with no other choices, she accepts. But there is much more to his story, and Brienna soon discovers that he has sought her out for his own vengeful gain. For there is a dangerous plot being planned to overthrow the king of Maevana—the archrival kingdom of Valenia—and restore the rightful queen, and her magic, to the northern throne. And others are involved—some closer to Brienna than she realizes.
With war brewing between the two lands, Brienna must choose whose side she will remain loyal to—passion or blood. Because a queen is destined to rise and lead the battle to reclaim the crown. The ultimate decision Brienna must determine is: Who will be that queen?
I seriously want to tell you that I absolutely loved this book… however, the truth is that I’m kind of on the fence about how I feel about it.
After reading the summary I was instantly intrigued by the potential that the story had, but for me, it all kind of fell flat. I think that most of that is due to the flow of the story. When we first meet Brienna, she’s a 10 year old being dropped off at Magnalia House to learn a passion, yet she has no real draw to any of the five passions, art, music, dramatics, wit, and knowledge. There is also a secret being kept about her heritage. Unfortunately none of that drew me into the story itself. Brienna drifts from passion to passion trying to learn all that she needs in order to master and be chosen by a patron, but when the fateful day arrives to be chosen, she is not.
Which leads to the second half of the story. Months after her sisters are chosen, Brienna is offered patronage from a disgraced lord and very quickly learns more about the history between Maevana and Valenia. Ultimately she is forced to choose between blood and her beliefs because a queen is meant to sit on the throne.
I’m not exaggerating when I say this was slow going for me… it took me 17 days to finish this book. I found myself reading a few chapters and then putting it aside for something else because the story just wasn’t grabbing me. I mention that the first part is set in the school where the girls are learning their passions, and while it was nice to learn a bit about that, I feel like that was just not as necessary to the story that was at hand. I felt like quite a bit of it was filler, and for a book that is 439 pages long, it would have been easy enough to edit it down a bit more so we’d get to the action a bit quicker.
By action I mean the second part of the story. Quite a bit happens during this section… I’m not going to spoil anything, but there is quite a bit of action, which I loved! But… it didn’t make me forget the slow going of the first half of the book.
The characters themselves were kind of blah for me. No one really stood out, and I never really connected with any of them, much less our lead Brienna. Also, can we talk about the family tree at the beginning of the book? There is this attempt to build up a mystery surrounding who Brienna’s father is, yet it’s all laid out right there before you even start reading.
There is a romance here… though, I don’t know how much of it truly worked for me. It was quite predictable and there honestly wasn’t enough to it to keep me interested in the pairing. I wanted swoons and romance, and much of them together was anything but that.
Overall, a pretty good read, though one that needed more editing. I’ll definitely be checking out what Ross writes next to see if I click with that a bit more.