First things first, whether you like well-crafted dystopian universes or m/m in unusual settings and with great, convincing character-building and heaFirst things first, whether you like well-crafted dystopian universes or m/m in unusual settings and with great, convincing character-building and heart-wrenching relationships, or ─even better─ both, you should read this book. I have been careful not to include spoilers here because I have seen lots of people with this book in their to-read list. To them I’d like to say: Read it. Now. And now on to the actual review.
This is the first book by a very talented writer whose skills I’ve known about for years and am happy to finally see displayed in the novel that I was sure would happen. In it she depicts a dystopian, dark, almost post-apocalyptic-looking world in which the air is mostly unbreathable, society is controlled by the Terah ─a mysterious organization whose mere mention chills you to the bone before you even know what it is─, humans live side by side with the Mechi, really evolved androids every bit as oppressed as most surviving people, “corporate” workers have privileges and everyone else tries to live another day amidst violence and chaos. Additionally, there are the survivors of an alien race who came to Earth and were brutally oppresse, the Ezri. Ms Daily does a wonderful job of building this world in detail while at the same time refraining from giving away everything at once, which makes it all the more exciting.
The three protagonists, Caden, Mikas and Blue, are very different from each other but their stories become increasingly entangled; they are stunningly complex and three-dimensional. Their feelings about the decaying world they live in and for each other pervade the whole story, which is in fact three stories, three points of view and three sets of feelings, fears and loyalties giving shape to the plot. Although I very much enjoyed the world-building, I think that characterization ─even of secondary characters─ is the author’s single best accomplishment, and it is impossible not to relate to them and their plight. She particularly shines in the depiction of complex human emotions, so much that I was teary-eyed at several different moments through the book. This is hard to find in books with an m/m plot or subplot, and it is one of the reasons why I think Ms Daily’s works are going to make an invaluable contribution to the genre.
Lastly, I’d like to emphasize the author’s neat prose and style, which makes the reading experience very enjoyable. This is the first book in a series, so ─as is to be expected in these cases─ there are unanswered questions, cliff-hangers and loose ends that will be surely tied up as the story progresses. I am very excited and can’t wait for the second novel.
This debut novel merits readers and appreciation, so I really hope others will soon join me in this comment section and shower the author with the 5 stars she deserves! ...more
3 STARS. WARNING: Some spoilers below. It was barely good enough not to make me put it down. Barely. I seriously don't understand all the praise in ot3 STARS. WARNING: Some spoilers below. It was barely good enough not to make me put it down. Barely. I seriously don't understand all the praise in other reviews, unless they are written by personal friends of the author. I thought this was a novice author's book, full of way too many errors and inconsistencies. I was suprised to find out that she is not. Let's start with the thing that annoyed me the most: poor beta-reading/editing. There are grammatical omissions, typos, strange sentences. I don't think this qualifies as "superb writing" (I'm awed to find that in other reviews). It's careless and sloppy, as if the author had been in a rush to get the book out instead of preparing a polished, well-knit final version. Careful editing could have rendered this a better book. Could. Because the writing is not the only problem. For such an ambitious book length-wise (it IS way too long), there is an obvious lack of planning and plot-building. I understand this is a character-driven book, and the author's single best achievement is the characterization of Prince Ashe (not so much Illya). However, the book is misleading and it starts with a war that then seems to fade into the background and an enemy (the king of the enemy kingdom) who wasn't so important after all (?!). So it's not a war story. Then the story shifts to political intrigue (did Ashe's father poison the people he loved the most? didn't he? we never found out). Who are the factions who want the power at court? But ultimately political intrigue is not even important; after all Illya is totally left out of important business. He is basically an incredibly unlucky guy and, when the story seems to focus more on ghosts and the supernatural, it doesn't become -that- exciting either. What of Rina? there was so much potential as far as she was concerned. What of Illya's family? they are absent, simply looming as a faraway threat that might or might not be real. Was Davad possessed? Wasn't he? What does Ashe threatening his father accomplish? He seems to have lost all support and moved away from court at the end of the story; is he ever going to be king? A respected, good one? I almost wished the author had produced a miraculously-alive, spirited away older brother. So seriously, wtf? If this was just meant to be a book about two characters falling on love, all the pointers that seemed to push the story into different directions without accomplishing anything in the end seem gratuitous. There is so much that remains unjustified, and the ending is particularly unsatisfactory, as if the author had stopped caring. She could have just chosen one or two issues in her fantasy world and pursued them (either the war, the political intrigue, the supernatural themes...) and brought them to a reasonable conclusion. Again, a good editor might have also pointed out these things. You may ask them, why did I keep on reading? I enjoyed some of the dialogue, I like stories about unlikely lovers, the initial non-con totally baffled me and caught my attention... All in all, there are other better supernatural/fantasy slash stories you could be reading, imho. Especially if you've got a serious grammar / style / plot consistency pet peeve. ...more
I didn't give the first book a 5-star rating; it was more like a 4.5 to me: All the good elements, the good writing, the superbly sketched charactersI didn't give the first book a 5-star rating; it was more like a 4.5 to me: All the good elements, the good writing, the superbly sketched characters were there. It is only when you read the second volume that you realize how good the first one was, how everything was superbly planned and nothing was gratuitous: This author has a way of tying up loose ends and make each piece of information, each sentence fit. And now the fangirly/obsessed rant: I LOVE THIS STORY. I love every single thing about it, and I don't think I've been this mesmerized about the evolution and changing relationship of two characters in ages. As a reader, I feel like I am Damien, watching Laurent, falling for Laurent even as he gets to know him -Laurent's very complex mind and motives, stubborness and insecurities. I feel like I've fallen for Laurent too and I'm rooting for him to beat the odds and win this drawn-out family / political intrigue. I love the "gazing" trope, how much time Laurent and Damien spend looking at each other, especially Laurent's shifting, darkening, cooling, heating blue eyes. I don't feel like typing endless spoilers here because these books are so worth the read. As in, GO READ THEM NOW if you are a fantasy fan, a slash fan, or just someone who likes twisted intrigues and well-built, three-dimensional characters.But forget about your daily life for a couple of days because I promise you, you won't be able to put these books down. Not for a second. Not to sleep, or eat. Be warned and just... READ THEM. ...more
5 STARS. I put off reading the last book of the series for some time because I was sad to think that it's the last one. I am glad I finally did it. Wh5 STARS. I put off reading the last book of the series for some time because I was sad to think that it's the last one. I am glad I finally did it. What an emotional ride it is! If you love this universe and its characters, you will enjoy it immensely. I'm too overwhelmed with emotion and happiness and sadness right now to write a proper review... I will love Alec, Seregil, Thero and everyone else forever. ...more
4.5 stars. Considering it's a huge book, it hasn't taken me long to read is. And this is because it's a well-written book with an interesting protagon4.5 stars. Considering it's a huge book, it hasn't taken me long to read is. And this is because it's a well-written book with an interesting protagonist/narrator and his even more excinting "love interest". The growing relationship between those two would melt the Poles, to be honest. Besides the adventure and the pirates and the hammocks with entwined pirates on them, the author has done some very exhaustive research on the period and it shows. So I'd say this is totally your thing if you like slash and pirates, or even just slash (the pirate thing will grow on you, believe me!). ...more
4.5 stars, considering it's not a work of amazing literary quality but it's a well-crafted, interesting, sometimes gripping story with rather cool cha4.5 stars, considering it's not a work of amazing literary quality but it's a well-crafted, interesting, sometimes gripping story with rather cool characters. ...more
I received this book (CRA) via NetGallery for an honest review.
Just for the record, I haven't read any of the other books in this series. I was very eI received this book (CRA) via NetGallery for an honest review.
Just for the record, I haven't read any of the other books in this series. I was very enthusiastic when I read the synopsis to Severed Stone but I confess I am disappointed. At first, I thought that this would be a fairy-tale of sorts, properly enhanced so that it would constitute a novel. As I read on, I kept finding the characters terribly flat; as much as I love stories of princesses-to-be and sorcery, I failed to connect with Ciorstan. I could foresee where the plot was headed as soon as I had read 1/3 of the book, and I wasn't wrong. I enjoy being surprised, even mesmerized by characters' unexpected development or actions, but you'll find none of that in this book. I didn't particularly enjoy the author's writing style, either; it struck me as plain and rather colorless. The good thing is, I kept reading. I didn't give up so that's why I'm giving the book 2 stars. ...more