by Emily Thiede.
In this book we follow Alessa who’s been chosen by the goddess Dea as their next Finestra. A person who has the power to amplify the magic of those blessed with it. The reason for this is so that she, together with the blessed partner (Fonte) of her choosing, can save the people of Saverio when the unnatural armies of Crollo attacks in a recurring event called Diverando.
But becoming Finestra means not only luxury and fame but shedding all ties to your old life and live in solitude and isolation until Diverando. For Alessa, that’s a fate worse than death. And death is something she’s become familiar with because she’s proven to be controlled by her power rather than her controlling it, which means the next Fonte of her choosing might be the fourth that dies by her hand.
This was another unexpected hit for me. I had heard nothing of this book before I picked it up, and I hadn’t even read the blurb for it. It’s a wonderful and easy book to read, it’s full of tension and stakes and a ticking clock to an epic battle you in all honesty don’t know how the main character’s going to be fit for.
I find the writing to be compelling and descriptive enough for me to focus on the plot lines. I get enough information about this world to keep me interested and wanting more, and enough to make it feel like I understand the basics of it. At the same time, I don’t feel like information is dumped upon me. I get what I need when I need it and little else, but that’s just the way I personally like it.
We follow the story through Alessa’s point of view, but her hired bodyguard, Dante, has a big part of the story. And these two main characters are well developed and very interesting to follow. Especially Dante who in himself is a bit of a mystery that the reader and Alessa want to solve. The rest of the featured cast is, however, a bit bland and one dimensional. I can see how this happened due to how the plot is structured and the limited time it provides, but it didn’t really feel like we were given enough time to get to know them to warrant the “friendship status” that Alessa gained with them. It felt hollow.
And to be honest, I’m not a fan of the “damsel in distress” kind of character. Which Alessa largely is. She’s helpless, crying a lot, begging for people to save her although she’s supposed to be the one that saves everyone. There’s little action and “go” in her, and she tends to sit around and mope rather than make difficult choices and do things.
I do, however, seem to really love grumpy, mysterious and handsome men with a lot of sarcasm. Which meant that I didn’t care that Alessa was a total damsel in distress when Dante was the one to come along and save her.
And I was so invested in the romance aspect of this book, that the plot and the threat of Diverando and the Fontes and all the things didn’t even matter. I couldn’t have cared less about the actual plot, because I finished the book because of the romance. Which is odd because I don’t usually like romance novels, and I’m a very plot driven kind of reader who usually don’t get invested in the characters. All I tend to want is to know what happened with the plot. Here, I just wanted to know about the romance.
I do want to say though that I, at times, felt lite it was a little “problematic” on the romance side. Or maybe that’s the wrong word for it. But Alessa clearly find Dante very very attractive, and she keeps talking about it, clearly objectifying him quite a lot. In one way it’s written so that it feels sweet and innocent, but at the same time had the gender roles been switched here, it wouldn’t have been. Who would find it sweet if a man repeatedly mentioned how much he wanted to touch a woman’s body and even at one point saying he wanted to pay to massage her. So why is it okay when a woman does it to a man? From Alessa’s point of view Dante seemed to like being watched and objectified, but how can we know for sure? Wouldn’t a man objectifying a woman also believe she wanted to judging by the way she was dressed etc.?
Yeah, I know, I’m taking this a little too far, but these were still things that I thought of while reading. Perhaps because the writing and the close perspective made it feel like I, the reader, was objectifying him. And that did make me a little uncomfortable because I knew I wouldn’t have wanted to be looked upon the way Alessa looked upon Dante.
But in the end, the romance is fantastic in the novel, and the characters are considerate, and consent is important to them, which I find wonderful. More novels like this where there’s clear consent in romance, thank you very much.
So, if you like yourself a slow-burn romance, I think you might like this one. Also, the plot—you know the thing about preparing for the battle and not killing the ones supposed to help you save the world—well that works very well too. So even if you’re not a romance fan, and like me tend to prefer plot over characters, I think you might like this too. There’s a good plot here, just not as a great as the romance .
All in all, a great book that had be reading far into the night. So read it.