TRIGGER WARNING: This book contains implied rape, domestic violence and some scenes of gore.
Diversity: This is set in a kind of “fake Sumerian” world which mean it’s a mix of some Indian and Arabic traits. Such as it is, I assume everyone is not white.
Kalinda is implied to be bisexual but it’s not outright stated and it can easily be “I love her, but as a friend” kind of way. So that’s unknown.
I first want to state this book is way better than Red Queen. Where Red Queen made me want to burn the book a million time, I really never found a time where I was hating this book.
However there were a lot of times I rolled my eyes. Especially about the whole “died of a broken heart/no strength”. See a person giving birth to a bhuta child put their own life in danger..because…. Just because. It might be explained later, but not in this book. So of course we have someone dying in child birth with really no reason for it. URRRGHHH.
See bhuta are basically “benders” like from Avatar. They can use the powers of Earth, Air, Water and Fire and Kalindaust so happens to be a fire bhuta. Insert a whole long dissertation about how she she’s “omg soo thin” and “sooo plain” that nobody would ever want to claim her aaand of course the rajah shows up and does just that. Of course she doesn’t want that and starts plotting against him.
Insert Hastin the bhuta warlord that wants to fight back against Rajah Tarek’s oppression of bhuta people…. by of course being just as bad as he is. This was the other time that I came close to throwing the book against the wall. Really sick of the “the oppressed are just as bad as..” shit.
Then there’s the woman sacrificed as revenge fuel that creeped in there. This is after she has been forcefully wed, implied raped, and then beaten by her husband.
These are the things that brought the book down from an otherwise good story.
At no time does the protag act in a way that end us seemingly stupid or rash. She’s a good fighter and a good planner. So why couldn’t we just have it that her mom was too and that she’s “somewhere” instead of dead by childbirth from a ‘broken heart’. The girl hate is kept to a minimum and there are a number of times that the women work together to save each other and are actually friends. Even though a major plot point is fighting each other to the death.
Overall not a bad read. Better than Red Queen, but has a few things wrong with it that makes it a very good or excellent read. I might pick up the sequel maybe if I have a clean plate, but currently have too much of a backlog to have a super interest in it. It seems that the author might have done some research, but how much I am not certain.