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Witches Steeped in Gold

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Divided by their order. United by their vengeance. Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom - and vengeance. Jazmyne is the Queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power. Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But pow Divided by their order. United by their vengeance. Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom - and vengeance. Jazmyne is the Queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power. Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But power is intoxicating, revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain - except the lengths they will go to win this game. This Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut about two enemy witches who must enter into a deadly alliance to take down a common enemy has the twisted cat-and-mouse of Killing Eve with the richly imagined fantasy world of Furyborn and Ember in the Ashes.


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Divided by their order. United by their vengeance. Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom - and vengeance. Jazmyne is the Queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power. Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But pow Divided by their order. United by their vengeance. Iraya has spent her life in a cell, but every day brings her closer to freedom - and vengeance. Jazmyne is the Queen’s daughter, but unlike her sister before her, she has no intention of dying to strengthen her mother’s power. Sworn enemies, these two witches enter a precarious alliance to take down a mutual threat. But power is intoxicating, revenge is a bloody pursuit, and nothing is certain - except the lengths they will go to win this game. This Jamaican-inspired fantasy debut about two enemy witches who must enter into a deadly alliance to take down a common enemy has the twisted cat-and-mouse of Killing Eve with the richly imagined fantasy world of Furyborn and Ember in the Ashes.

30 review for Witches Steeped in Gold

  1. 4 out of 5

    Joel Rochester

    holy. shit. i can't form into words how much i needed this book i can't explain how much i love this book i'm going to be screaming into a void until 2021 to see my identity represented and this story exploring the duality and dichotomy of heroes and villains? holy. fucking. shit. beautiful, amazing, wish i could rate it more highly holy. shit. i can't form into words how much i needed this book i can't explain how much i love this book i'm going to be screaming into a void until 2021 to see my identity represented and this story exploring the duality and dichotomy of heroes and villains? holy. fucking. shit. beautiful, amazing, wish i could rate it more highly

  2. 5 out of 5

    jessica

    from a cultural standpoint, this book is fantastic. the jamaican influence, diversity, and representation are what gives this story its power. theres so much magic and heart and imagery. it reminded me very much of ‘a song of wraiths and ruin.’ and although im not as obsessed with the plot (full of YA clichés) or characters (there isnt a lot that personally distinguishes between the two MCs - i kept ketting their POVs mixed up in the beginning) as everyone else seems to be, i still found this to from a cultural standpoint, this book is fantastic. the jamaican influence, diversity, and representation are what gives this story its power. theres so much magic and heart and imagery. it reminded me very much of ‘a song of wraiths and ruin.’ and although im not as obsessed with the plot (full of YA clichés) or characters (there isnt a lot that personally distinguishes between the two MCs - i kept ketting their POVs mixed up in the beginning) as everyone else seems to be, i still found this to be a pretty good story. and i thought the use of antiheroes and morally gray characters was actually well done. i also enjoyed the ending. i think it concludes naturally and sets the story up well for the next book. overall, this is a nice debut! thanks to harper collins for the ARC! ↠ 3.5 stars

  3. 4 out of 5

    Angelica

    This Synopsis said, "Caribbean," "Witches" and "Revenge" and they just so happen to be a few of my favorite words. and like, can we talk about this cover though???? ---- UPDATE: I got an ARC!!!!!! This Synopsis said, "Caribbean," "Witches" and "Revenge" and they just so happen to be a few of my favorite words. and like, can we talk about this cover though???? ---- UPDATE: I got an ARC!!!!!!

  4. 4 out of 5

    ♠ Tabi⁷ ♠

    my wallet better be steeped in gold to allow me all these epic-sounding new releases LOOK AT THAT COVER AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH

  5. 5 out of 5

    Romie

    so, hypothetically, can I marry this cover?

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elle

    Okay I am about 150 pages into this and I’m giving up. 😓 I hate DNFing books, but I literally have no idea what is going on. It’s pretty slow and I am just so desperately behind on following the world-building that I don’t think I’ll be able to catch up. Maybe I can pick this up again sometime in the future, but for now I’m going to have to set it aside. I just don’t think I’ll be able to trudge through the rest of this 550 page chonker right now. **For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Inst Okay I am about 150 pages into this and I’m giving up. 😓 I hate DNFing books, but I literally have no idea what is going on. It’s pretty slow and I am just so desperately behind on following the world-building that I don’t think I’ll be able to catch up. Maybe I can pick this up again sometime in the future, but for now I’m going to have to set it aside. I just don’t think I’ll be able to trudge through the rest of this 550 page chonker right now. **For more book talk & reviews, follow me on Instagram at @elle_mentbooks!

  7. 4 out of 5

    ☀︎El In Oz☀︎

    3/5 "Trouble doesn't give signs like rain, so we must always be ready for it." And I guess that's on my most anticipated releases not being good lmao. While this book isn't that bad, it lacked everything I wanted from it. It wasn't a tale of revenge and blood and witches who are willing to get revenge at whatever cost. I guess I wanted too much from it. The writing is okay. My issue is the two POV's are incredibly similar and I often forgot who I was reading about. I also think many of the char 3/5 "Trouble doesn't give signs like rain, so we must always be ready for it." And I guess that's on my most anticipated releases not being good lmao. While this book isn't that bad, it lacked everything I wanted from it. It wasn't a tale of revenge and blood and witches who are willing to get revenge at whatever cost. I guess I wanted too much from it. The writing is okay. My issue is the two POV's are incredibly similar and I often forgot who I was reading about. I also think many of the characters completely acted out of character in the last few chapters. The personality of Jazmyne did a complete 180 turn on its head, to a point I wondered if she was being mind controlled or something. Of the two POVs, it's obvious to me Jazmyne's is better. Ira is very annoying and she makes so many dumb decisions reading from her POV became really frustrating. Jazmyne on the other hand tried to be somewhat logical. The other characters fell pretty flat in my opinion and could use some more fleshing out. Though the night is flush with stars, the sky still seems like a lid of earth closing atop a grave. The plot is very very lacking. It is so slow. Most of this book is a drag, to the point I skipped two chapters and was still able to follow the story as if they hadn't existed. I think more action throughout the book would have helped it a lot, instead of rushing the ending to be action and twist packed. The ending was ten times better, but the twists made no sense to me. It didn't really make sense in the logical way of 'how could this even work?'. And the major death at the end was way too easy and simple to be the climax. The characters all acted out of character in the end, and their actions just didn't make any sense. Jazmyne at least had some things sorted out, Ira was a mess. The atmosphere I wished this book had wasn't there. The magic system didn't seem to have any limits when someone has enough gold, and there weren't any explanations to how someone inherited family magic. The magic system is pretty simple but it's lacking in finer details that makes it seem real. The worldbuilding as well was lacking. It was incomplete and the different orders overall didn't make much sense to me. I also feel the synopsis is wrong because our two MC's don't ever actually team up. It's pretty clear they never agree on anything, and they don't even have a full conversation until halfway through. So many plot points were brought up, like The Yielding, but then never refocused on. I think the witches themselves weren't there. They don't even mention being witches that much, and the book wasn't witchy. Also, the romance was awful. Ira and her love interest had zero chemistry and it was focused on so little I didn’t understand why they suddenly liked each other so much. And to the point they felt betrayed by each other? Anyways. At the end of the day this book was a solid and average debut, but I don't think I'll pick up the sequel. That being said I'm curious for what Ciannon has next to write. Hope may be for the faithful, but it is also for the focused, and what lies ahead means I must be dagger-sharp.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ellie (faerieontheshelf)

    this was comp'd to Killing Eve so <33 thank you to the publisher for gifting me a proof copy in exchange for an honest review! this was comp'd to Killing Eve so <33 thank you to the publisher for gifting me a proof copy in exchange for an honest review!

  9. 4 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    I would have bought this book for the cover alone, but then I read the synopsis and now, I'm off to perorder!! There is only so many times you need to say the word, vengeance, in a synopsis before I am sold. And by that, I mean, once. You only need to say it once. I would have bought this book for the cover alone, but then I read the synopsis and now, I'm off to perorder!! There is only so many times you need to say the word, vengeance, in a synopsis before I am sold. And by that, I mean, once. You only need to say it once.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Fadwa (Word Wonders)

    Content warnings: (view spoiler)[violence, mind control, death, murder, blood, oppression (hide spoiler)] I am one sad reader. This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021 and although I liked some of it and saw the potential in it, it ultimately ended up disappointing me because of everything that I didn't like about it. The positives: - The worldbuilding and lore. This was the book's strongest suit and my favorite thing about it by far. It's Jamaican inspired and so so rich and vivid, I Content warnings: (view spoiler)[violence, mind control, death, murder, blood, oppression (hide spoiler)] I am one sad reader. This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2021 and although I liked some of it and saw the potential in it, it ultimately ended up disappointing me because of everything that I didn't like about it. The positives: - The worldbuilding and lore. This was the book's strongest suit and my favorite thing about it by far. It's Jamaican inspired and so so rich and vivid, I got excited every time we learned something about the workings of the island, especially the history of it and how it got to be the way it is. - The way the magic was explained and layed out and how that influenced (or was influenced by?) the beliefs of people wilding it. We have two factions that have very drastic ways and philosophies about approaching and using magic even though said magic has the same origin, and each one thinks the other is Wrong. - The concept of there being two sides to each story with the two main characters being from the two factions, each of which have oppressed the other at one point and thinking they are The Bad Guy. But as a reader, when you get both versions of the story and put the missing pieces together, you realize that there really is no one bad guy and the villain is someone's story can be and is the hero in someone else's. -The relationship and very fragile truce between Jazmyne and Iraya were fascinating to read about. The negatives: - The pacing. This was the book's biggest downfall imo and the thing that made me lose interest in it. A lot of the action and reveals (re: most, if not all) were left to the last quarter of the book and as such, I was bored for a lot of the story and by the time all those things happened and things were revealed, I just... lost interested and wanted to be done with the book already. - Some of the reveals were too convenient and didn't make 100% sense with the rest of the story. Especially some things that required the characters acting out of character. - The way the characters were and the way we were told they were didn't always match up. This was noticeable the most for me with Jazmyne towards the end of the book. - The romance. I absolutely despised it. There was no chemistry or development to it and I really would have liked it to not be there, it didn't make sense to me. All in all, don't let this deter you from reading the book. It might not have worked for me but it might for you.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Zoe Stewart (Zoe's All Booked)

    As I've already promised my husband's left tit for another book, I will GLADLY give his right tit for this one. The way I NEED THIS FACE OUT UGGHHH my body (and my shelves) are 👏READY👏 As I've already promised my husband's left tit for another book, I will GLADLY give his right tit for this one. The way I NEED THIS FACE OUT UGGHHH my body (and my shelves) are 👏READY👏

  12. 5 out of 5

    ale ♡

    hOLY MOLLY, LOOK AT THIS BEAUTIFUL AND POWERFUL COVER! I'M TOTALLY IN LOVE, AHHHHHHHHHHH hOLY MOLLY, LOOK AT THIS BEAUTIFUL AND POWERFUL COVER! I'M TOTALLY IN LOVE, AHHHHHHHHHHH

  13. 4 out of 5

    Miranda Reads

    Just finished my April OwlCrate & OUABC Mystery Unboxing & Review Video ! Discount code for OUABC: MIRANDAREADS10 Thought this book was pretty good, solid 3/5. For a full review, check out the video! YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads Just finished my April OwlCrate & OUABC Mystery Unboxing & Review Video ! Discount code for OUABC: MIRANDAREADS10 Thought this book was pretty good, solid 3/5. For a full review, check out the video! YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | Snapchat @miranda_reads

  14. 5 out of 5

    Umairah | Sereadipity

    When I picked up this book I had no idea what to expect but I was extremely excited to read it- luckily, it definitely delivered. A Jamaican-inspired young adult fantasy full of intrigue, action, scheming and compelling characters, Witches Steeped in Gold bewitched me from the first page until the very last. Plot: 4/5 Characters: 4/5 Writing: 4.5/5 The plot revolved around two witches who belonged to enemy orders: Jazmyne who belonged to the Alumbrar order and Iraya who belonged to the Obeah order. When I picked up this book I had no idea what to expect but I was extremely excited to read it- luckily, it definitely delivered. A Jamaican-inspired young adult fantasy full of intrigue, action, scheming and compelling characters, Witches Steeped in Gold bewitched me from the first page until the very last. Plot: 4/5 Characters: 4/5 Writing: 4.5/5 The plot revolved around two witches who belonged to enemy orders: Jazmyne who belonged to the Alumbrar order and Iraya who belonged to the Obeah order. The story alternated between both of their perspectives as they entered into a precarious alliance to achieve a shared goal. Jazmyne started off quite indecisive and afraid of taking action against her mother who was the doyenne of Aiyca- despite finding her rule unjust. As the story progressed it was interesting to see her realise that she had power and watch her learn how to wield it and stand her own ground. What was more interesting still was how her taste of power obscured her initial noble intentions and she sank lower and lower to hold onto it at any cost. She pretty much had a corruption arc and the irony wasn't lost on me that she became exactly what she started off fighting against. I didn't like Jazmyne much at all by the end but that isn't a criticism of the book- she was extremely interesting to read about. I have to say though, Jazmyne's romance sub plot was extremely lacklustre and boring- I feel like the book would have been better of without it. For me, Iraya was a more likeable character despite her tendency to act rashly (it was honestly painful to watch her keep acting impulsively and making the worst choices) and avoid responsibility in the misguided belief it will keep people safe. Her constant internal conflict revolved around her trying to reconcile people's expectations of her and her own desires and hopes, her duty to honour the dead and her duty to do right by the living. Unlike Jazmyne, I feel like she had more selfish motivations in the start but as the book progressed they became more selfless as her sense of responsibility towards her people grew. Iraya's romance sub plot was a lot more interesting and while it definitely was a bit cliché, I found the way her relationship with Kirdan developed very entertaining. Both Iraya and Jazmyne's perspectives had distinct voices and personalities and switching between them made the tone of the book more dynamic. As the book progressed, Iraya began to realise that she could let people help her and that she didn't have to carry the burden alone to succeed whereas Jazmyne began to realise that she couldn't rely on the people she trusted. I thought it was clever how Iraya surrounding herself with more people and opening up was contrasted with Jazmyne becoming more isolated and closed off. It was chilling how by the end of the book they had both become what they were most afraid of at the start. My favourite aspect of the book was that we are shown the perspectives of both the Alumbrar and Obeah in a way that makes it impossible to 'pick a side' because neither is fully good or evil. Whilst I was reading I felt quite anxious wondering if they would put aside their differences or if one side would come out on top in the end and how I would feel about the possible outcomes. The story emphasised how subjective notions of heroism and villainy are as Jazmyne and Iraya walked the knife edge between the two, thinking that they were breaking the cycles of hatred and violence while unknowingly perpetuating them. A part of what makes this story compelling is that there are no heroes or villains... there are just people like you and me doing what they think is best for themselves and those around them. I adored the world Smart created. It was nuanced, exciting and full of vicious beauty. I loved the Jamaican influences, the intricate lore and traditions and it all felt very immersive and put together with love and care. I liked how the Obeah and Alumbrar magic systems were contrasted and the way these systems directly influenced and were influenced by the wider society- I especially liked the idea of gold being the conduit for magic. Overall, the plot was twisty- driven by scheming and betrayals. However, the first half of the book was quite slow paced and the plot took a while to really get going. I do think this was necessary to set up the world, the characters and the stakes but if you dislike books structured like this then I don't think this book will be for you. The main reason that this was a four star read not a five star read was that while I was engaged in the story and wanted to know what would happen I wasn't as emotionally invested as I wanted to be. Witches Steeped in Gold was a compelling read that I highly recommend, perfect for fans of An Ember in the Ashes. The book ended in a strong place and set everything up nicely for the next book so I think the sequel has a lot of potential to be a five star read and I'm very excited to read it! Thank you to Ciannon Smart and HarperTeen for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review and more can be found at my blog Sereadipity!!!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ari

    This one took me a while to get into. I'm not as familiar with the terminology in this book as I would've liked, and sometimes certain things are not explained, so I found myself stumbling through the novel from time to time. But eventually I pushed past that and the story sucked me in. The novel is brimming with magic and secrets, and just when you think that you know what's going on, you're smacked with a new surprise. It's a really quick read despite the length, and even though I struggled sl This one took me a while to get into. I'm not as familiar with the terminology in this book as I would've liked, and sometimes certain things are not explained, so I found myself stumbling through the novel from time to time. But eventually I pushed past that and the story sucked me in. The novel is brimming with magic and secrets, and just when you think that you know what's going on, you're smacked with a new surprise. It's a really quick read despite the length, and even though I struggled slightly in the beginning, I was flying through once I got my bearings.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Iris

    Witches from enemy castes? Forming an alliance? Because they want revenge? SIGN ME UP

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kendra

    I had to PUSH through this one. I wanted to like it so much more than I did but I found most of it to be boring. Things picked up a little in the middle and then slowed down again and the ending felt a little rushed in my opinion. The magic system could've been more fleshed out as well. However, the world-building was amazing and I did love a lot of the characters (we got BLACK PIRATES BBY!!). This is the thing that really got me: I love books with dual pov but it didn't seem to work in this one. I had to PUSH through this one. I wanted to like it so much more than I did but I found most of it to be boring. Things picked up a little in the middle and then slowed down again and the ending felt a little rushed in my opinion. The magic system could've been more fleshed out as well. However, the world-building was amazing and I did love a lot of the characters (we got BLACK PIRATES BBY!!). This is the thing that really got me: I love books with dual pov but it didn't seem to work in this one. I think this is because Jazmyne and Ira barely spend any time together for the first 300 pages (out of 500 plus). Alternating between the two MCs every other chapter slowed the story down tremendously throughout the book. For this to be written entirely in first person, I felt that everything we learned about Ira and Jazmyne was surface level. It didn't feel that we were in their heads and there was no real distinction between the two girls to make me go "yes this is def Ira's chapter" I would've loved this more if it was told only from Ira's POV. There was so much more to her journey that I wish we could've seen and I found her chapters to be the strongest overall in terms of plot. Overall Ciannon is a good writer and this was a solid debut. I'm excited to see what she does next.

  18. 5 out of 5

    ✧ jules ✧

    ARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss. my most anticipated book of 2021 just landed on my kindle. [incoherent sobbing noises]

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ciannon Smart

    Fifteen year old me wouldn't believe it, but here we are. Trigger warnings to come . . . Fifteen year old me wouldn't believe it, but here we are. Trigger warnings to come . . .

  20. 5 out of 5

    Trish-Antoni Baker

    I want to like this book. The premise sounds amazing, right? Jamaican... witches fighting together against a common foe. I desperately wanted to like this book, and yet, I don't. I actually really don't like this book. I didn't finish the book, I am going to try to but I find this book so offensive as a Jamaican, born and raised in Jamaica that it's hard to read. I can't tell what this book is trying to be, it feels like a punishment, the worlding building is a slugfest, the characters thus far I want to like this book. The premise sounds amazing, right? Jamaican... witches fighting together against a common foe. I desperately wanted to like this book, and yet, I don't. I actually really don't like this book. I didn't finish the book, I am going to try to but I find this book so offensive as a Jamaican, born and raised in Jamaica that it's hard to read. I can't tell what this book is trying to be, it feels like a punishment, the worlding building is a slugfest, the characters thus far uninspiring and uninteresting. To be honest I can't tell them apart. The language of this book bothers me, the phrases used, the way patois is integrated is strange. I want to be clear, you can't sprinkle the word "mon" into sentences like parsley, and call it patois. I felt like this was majorly a clinical version of patios for international audiences and that is fine but the way it is implemented is very clunky which is strange. In Jamaica, you have various types of patios spoken by the people and you actually have a version that is typically used by persons where standard English (the Queens English) is their first language that is pretty sanitized and easy to understand that could've been used throughout the novel. The book has a good plot, but the execution leaves much to desire. Wouldn't recommend it if you're Jamaican (born in Jamaica).

  21. 4 out of 5

    h o l l i s

    Look, I'm not saying I'm an idiot for picking up a dense complicated fantasy while trying to pull myself out of a slump but.. if the shoe fits, right? While a good portion of my struggle with this book is, as above, my own damn fault, I also think the first half of this book is just too thick. There is so much to wade through as far as history and worldbuilding and terminology, which is kind of understandable with a series-starter, but it just didn't sink in. And while the second half of the stor Look, I'm not saying I'm an idiot for picking up a dense complicated fantasy while trying to pull myself out of a slump but.. if the shoe fits, right? While a good portion of my struggle with this book is, as above, my own damn fault, I also think the first half of this book is just too thick. There is so much to wade through as far as history and worldbuilding and terminology, which is kind of understandable with a series-starter, but it just didn't sink in. And while the second half of the story was full of action and betrayals and reveals, oh my, I'm still left wondering if I understand anything about this world. I'm also kind of confused as to where we ended up with one of the main characters. But that's a whole other thing. Easily my favourite thing about this was the writing; even when I was struggling with a character, or two, or the plot, I enjoyed how it was all written. But overall, beyond the representation, I'm not entirely sure this is memorable and I know I will absolutely to remember anything about this by the time the sequel is out. Which is a bummer. I definitely suggest you still give this is a try if you're interested, though; I'm writing this just two weeks shy of its release and the early buzz is poppin'. This is connecting with, and entertaining, so many readers. So don't let this slumpy party pooper put you off. ** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. ** --- This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.

  22. 4 out of 5

    sam

    “From light we are born. And to light we cleave.” ★★★★☆ blog | instagram | twitter | pinterest Huge thank you to Coloured Pages Book Tours and the publisher for providing me with an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. First of all - CAN WE LITERALLY TALK ABOUT THIS COVER?? I’m obsessed 🤩 This story is so rich and the writing is absolutely stunning. I love the magic system. Honestly overall, in terms of being unique, this book checks all the boxes. Th “From light we are born. And to light we cleave.” ★★★★☆ blog | instagram | twitter | pinterest Huge thank you to Coloured Pages Book Tours and the publisher for providing me with an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. First of all - CAN WE LITERALLY TALK ABOUT THIS COVER?? I’m obsessed 🤩 This story is so rich and the writing is absolutely stunning. I love the magic system. Honestly overall, in terms of being unique, this book checks all the boxes. There were times while reading where I had to go back and reread certain stuff because I couldn’t quite grasp some of the things, but that’s mainly because I really don’t know much about Jamaica and Jamaican culture, so a few things went over my head. I really enjoyed reading about it though. Let’s talk about the fact that we literally have two morally grey female characters in this book?? I really loved reading about them and I loved their character arcs throughout the book.  I also wasn’t really that invested in the romance. It mostly felt like it was there as a necessity but it didn’t really contribute much to the actual plot? The pacing of the book was a little off at the beginning, if only because there was a lot to set up, in terms of the characters and their pasts. I wish the pace transitioning was done better towards the end because it was just a little too chaotic.  Overall, I definitely recommend reading this. It’s absolutely gorgeous and I’m super invested in the story. I cant wait to see where she takes it from here.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Juliet

    I really don’t have anything nice to say about this book. It took me a month to read and it was a LONG month. The pacing was incredibly slow, the plot dull, the characters shallow and barely distinguishable from one another. The premise of the novel that is described in the blurb only happens 60% into the book. The romances fell flat and the world building was confusing. The writing was ok, if at times overly complex. I wish the best of luck to the author for the sequel, but I certainly won’t be I really don’t have anything nice to say about this book. It took me a month to read and it was a LONG month. The pacing was incredibly slow, the plot dull, the characters shallow and barely distinguishable from one another. The premise of the novel that is described in the blurb only happens 60% into the book. The romances fell flat and the world building was confusing. The writing was ok, if at times overly complex. I wish the best of luck to the author for the sequel, but I certainly won’t be reading it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Soup

    While the world building is excellent and complex, pacing is a serious problem in this work. The first half of the novel is painfully slow and most of the action driving events occur "off stage" so speak, resulting in hundreds of pages of the two protagonists reacting rather than doing (and those reactions are largely wishing they or their lives were different, that they were older, that past traumas hadn't occurred, etc.). The pace radically increases in the second half, which is refreshing, bu While the world building is excellent and complex, pacing is a serious problem in this work. The first half of the novel is painfully slow and most of the action driving events occur "off stage" so speak, resulting in hundreds of pages of the two protagonists reacting rather than doing (and those reactions are largely wishing they or their lives were different, that they were older, that past traumas hadn't occurred, etc.). The pace radically increases in the second half, which is refreshing, but ultimately the increase in pacing has minimal payoff as the sudden rush towards the end results in an abrupt cliffhanger. In some ways the reader is left feeling like they just read a 500+ page background or grounding preface, rather than a novel/story in its own right. The second volume, when it comes, will hopefully result in more meaningful action that will move the plot forward. Fans of Laurie Forest's The Black Witch Chronicles should give it a try.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brittany (whatbritreads)

    They say don’t judge a book by its cover but this was truly as stunning on the inside as it is on the outside. From the carefully crafted worldbuilding, the complex magic system, the political rivalry, the strong cast of characters... this was a solid debut. This did morally grey characters to perfection. They felt so real. The dual narrative really helped to piece the story together and I liked the tension between the two as they try and work together for a common cause. Even the side character They say don’t judge a book by its cover but this was truly as stunning on the inside as it is on the outside. From the carefully crafted worldbuilding, the complex magic system, the political rivalry, the strong cast of characters... this was a solid debut. This did morally grey characters to perfection. They felt so real. The dual narrative really helped to piece the story together and I liked the tension between the two as they try and work together for a common cause. Even the side characters in this book interested me, they all just felt so full of life. Tiny pet peeve but I really wish this book had a glossary (and every fantasy book ever, to be honest). This might just be a me problem - because I have a tiny sieve brain - but I got so confused at points. There are a whole bunch of new words in this book and they made perfect sense the first time when used in context and explained – but I immediately forgot a couple of pages after and spent a lot of time vaguely understanding what the characters were talking about but also not really. Obviously, a lot of love and thought has gone intro crafting this beautiful world, the magic systems, the politics etc. and so I would’ve loved something to flick back through to reference as I was reading to really enforce my understanding. The only reason this didn’t get a five star is that it did feel too long and I would’ve liked more depth in the relationships on-page. The pacing for the book was quite slow until the end, as much of it was spent plotting and planning. The end was fast paced, full of plot twists and really engaging – I just wish the middle bit would’ve been the same. I felt like because the book focused so much on this complex plot, the development of the characters and their dynamics took a bit of a back seat. I didn’t find the small romance storyline served any purpose really, and I spent the whole time wishing it was sapphic. The ending really packed a punch and I’m intrigued to read the sequel!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Wren (fablesandwren)

    100 pages in and I was so confused.

  27. 4 out of 5

    sol

    that cover i mean WOW chef's kiss that cover i mean WOW chef's kiss

  28. 4 out of 5

    Merricat

    This YA is incredibly detailed and richly imagined. It's the perfect recommendation for stronger YA readers who love deeply involved world building. This YA is incredibly detailed and richly imagined. It's the perfect recommendation for stronger YA readers who love deeply involved world building.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Trust no witch...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sakina (aforestofbooks)

    I was so excited for this book, especially after the HCCFrenzy event, however I didn't end up loving it as much as I was hoping. The writing really put me off. The way things were worded, sentences structured, and even the specific choice of words confused me more times than I can count. Especially in the beginning, there were so many different characters and groups of people and events thrown into the dialogue and narrative, that with the confusing way it was written, it didn't really help me un I was so excited for this book, especially after the HCCFrenzy event, however I didn't end up loving it as much as I was hoping. The writing really put me off. The way things were worded, sentences structured, and even the specific choice of words confused me more times than I can count. Especially in the beginning, there were so many different characters and groups of people and events thrown into the dialogue and narrative, that with the confusing way it was written, it didn't really help me understand what was happening. And while it did seem to get better half-way through the book, I still felt like I was piecing together bits and pieces without really knowing what was going on. I did read the arc of this book, so maybe there are changes in the finished copy, and I'm really hoping the finished copy comes with a glossary or a cast of characters or something. I started to get confused between all the different terms, especially since it was hard to keep track with how much is going on in this book. The magic system was really cool, especially with the use of gold as conduits. Though I was a bit confused with how it worked, especially considering how there didn't seem to be limits to what you could do with the magic. As for the characters, I think they were okay. I didn't fall in love with anyone in particular. There's a lot that happens off page that as the reader you just don't expect. It reminded me in many ways of Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. There's underlying plots that are maybe hinted at, but a lot of the action revolving these plots happens off-screen, which I found kind of disorienting. It does make for a pretty intense conclusion however. A lot happened in the last 100 pages or so, and I will admit that while the writing and characters fell short for me, the plot was definitely engaging after the mid-way point. It's intense and fast-paced, and everyone is sort of lying and you don't really know what's happening so when things do happen it's a nice shock-factor. Overall, an okay read. 3/5 stars

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