This book exceeded any and all expectations I had before, during and after reading it!! I am absolutely floored by how quickly and completely it drew me in and ensnared me. If you're looking for a wild emotional rollercoaster ride with courtly intrigue and a gut punching plot? read on...
There were a slew of things going on simultaneously and almost nothing was as it seemed on the surface. It wasn't until the epilogue that I got the full breadth and scope of the book. There was a regicide trial. There was a war brewing. There was a budding/highly unlikely romance slowly percolating. There were magical people being persecuted and there were rampant duplicitous actions abound.
Our MC, Hesina, ascends the throne early on but who can she trust? Can she trust anyone? Can she even trust her fallible memories? She is young, malleable, impetuous, head strong, stubborn and a bit naive SO is she ready to rule? Is she ready to rule a country on the brink of war? With nefarious people and deeds amiss, can she navigate court and ferret out her father's murderer? I was swiftly swept up in the beauty of the writing, the plot, the world building and most of all the complex loveable/loatheable characters. There were twists and turns... even the turns had turns. I got to a point where I found myself saying (to myself) "I've read enough books in my life to see where this is going" I sat with a sneer on my face and then BAM!!! our MC was sitting in the dirt and the game totally changed. Not only didn't I see major plot twists ahead of time, I apparently had no idea what game was being played altogether. As you can imagine this left me wanting.. nay, needing more. I couldn't stop reading. I made excuses to hide away and read just a bit more. I waited in my daughter's car rider line, at school, an hour early just so I could continue reading. I read while the rest of the family watched t.v. together. I skipped meals and read through the dead of the night. I was addicted... in the best possible sense. I was a puppet on Joan He's strings and reacted just as she commanded. I loved then loathed then loved then felt conflicted right on cue... AND that ending... it slayed me!! I might have cried. Okay, I did cry but I dare you not to shed some (completely understandable) tears. I was swept up in all of the emotions. I am still reeling days after finishing the book. I let it sit and ruminate in my mind to see if the endorphin high would wear off but I am still just as touched and obsessed as when I read the very last word. I desperately wish I could start over again, naive to what lay ahead...experience this book anew. BUT alas...it will have to live on in my memories and of course in my favorites list.
Over all: I LOVED this book!! It deftly elicited all the Feels. It ran me through the gamut of emotions and surprised me at almost every turn. I did guess one twist but that seems paltry compared to how many there were that I failed to foresee. This is going straight to my favorites list and I will wait until the end of time for book #2!! If you're still reading this... what are you waiting for?? Go and pick this one up toot sweet!
*** I was given a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review ***