Note: While this is an ARC, I was given a copy of this book from a giveaway, not for review purposes. All reviews and thoughts are my own.
I won this ARC a couple weeks ago from YallWest (or YallStayHome) and I’m excited that I got a chance to read it! It is a fantasy inspired by medieval India, which I thought was unique and interesting. The story focuses on Gul, a girl who is born with a star-shaped birthmark, who has spent her life trying to kill the King out of revenge for her parents’ murder. Her path eventually crosses with Cavas, a boy willing to do anything for his terminally ill father. Together, they explore the king’s domain as they uncover new secrets.
I thought that the actual world and world-building was a strong point for the story. There are very few books set in an India inspired world, and I really enjoyed the representation. There’s actually a glossary for many of the words in the back, which I didn’t know of while reading, but I did like that additional touch! The magic system was definitely a central part of the plot, but it was confusing at times, and didn’t quite make sense. There are so many different types of magic and powers (being able to speak to animals, attacking, killing, seeing the un-dead) and it was a little confusing to me on what the extent of this magic really was. I wish that this aspect was a little more structured, and it seemed too random at times.
I did enjoy the class divisions between the magi and the non-magi, and I thought that it was an interesting element to explore. There are very obvious tensions between those with and without magic, and I liked seeing the interactions between these two classes.
The actual plot was interesting to me, but it does follow some typical cliches. The story revolves around Gul being the “chosen one,” but it really didn’t bother me, and I think that it was done well. However, the book was a little slow for me in the beginning. The last half of the book had much more action than the beginning, and I wish that it didn’t take such a long time to get there. However, the additional action did make up for the slower start, and it left me feeling really satisfied with the book! The book also ends in a way that definitely calls for a sequel, which I will make sure to check out.
There are two main POV’s in this novel, being Gul and Cavas (with an interesting third for one chapter), and I thought that it gave further insight onto each of the main characters. I am usually a fan of multiple POV’s in a book, and I think that it fit in and worked well with the novel.
The characters were just okay, but I felt like there wasn’t anything special about them. I didn’t connect to either Gul or Cavas as much as I would have wanted, but I didn’t dislike them either. Gul was kind of just your average female heroine looking for revenge, and I wished Cavas had more of a presence in the plot of the story. I felt like he was just “there” at times, with Gul leading the story. The only interesting thing about him was the reveal of his heritage at the end, which I guess can be a plot-point in the sequel of this story.
I also didn’t like the romance as much as I thought I would. The romance in the novel is definitely centered around the “star-crossed lovers” trope, which usually isn’t my favorite. There also isn’t too much of it, and I thought that it was kind of weird how quickly their opinions on each other shifted. One moment they started falling deeper in love and the next they push each other away abruptly. It also I didn’t care too much for the characters, which could have also contributed to my disappointment.
Overall, there were elements I wish could have been better, but I am satisfied with the novel as a whole! The Indian inspiration gives it a unique spin, with the magic-system playing a central role in the story. I would recommend this book especially if you enjoy the “chosen one” and “star-crossed lovers trope.” I’m excited to see what happens in the next book, and I’m grateful that I got a chance to read this one early!