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Seraphina's Lament

(The Bloodlands #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  132 ratings  ·  55 reviews
The world is dying.

The Sunset Lands are broken, torn apart by a war of ideology paid for with the lives of the peasants. Drought holds the east as famine ravages the farmlands. In the west, borders slam shut in the face of waves of refugees, dooming all of those trying to flee to slow starvation, or a future in forced labor camps. There is no salvation.

In the city of Lord
Kindle Edition, 388 pages
Published February 19th 2019 by Sarah Chorn
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Grimdark fans
ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

A brutally remarkable and captivating Holodomor-inspired fantasy debut.

Seraphina’s Lament is Sarah Chorn’s debut and it’s the first book in The Bloodlands trilogy. For the purpose of targeting the right reader for this book, I'll start by saying that if you’re not a grimdark enthusiast, you might either want to skip this, or at least prepare yourself for some dark and heavy moments. As for its premise, check out the official blurb on
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-grimdark
As much as I have grown increasingly tired of the whole grimdark movement, I am the first to admit it's a subgenre with enormous potential, if done right . . . and, as is the case here, with style. Give me characters I care about, a mythology that excites me, and a mystery that draws me ever forward, and I'll gladly wallow in whatever darkness you want to surround me with.

Seraphina's Lament is a darkly beautiful book, full of gloriously nightmarish imagery. Sarah Chorn has a narrative voice so p
Oct 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spfbo-2019
*I read this as a Judge for this year's #SPFBO competition*

This story is absolutely, devastatingly, beautifully written. There were so many wonderful phrases, sentences and emotions that the author managed to evoke whilst reading this, and yet it's also a pretty dark and even slightly borders on the Horror category.
I have to admit that typically this isn't a story I would probably pick up, as it's definitely dark and has things like cannilbalism from page one. That sort of thing is graphically
Jan 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Seraphina’s Lament breaks genres, conventions and taboos.

Set in a secondary world based on the Russian Revolution and the Holodomor, it gives a detailed look at a dying world. 

A collectivist government controlled by an ex-revolutionary, Premier Eyad, used to have noble objectives. Things and people changed. Rulers inflict starvation, forced labour, and death on their subjects. Rampant famine forces people to commit acts of unspeakable cruelty and despair, including cannibalism. Magic leaks from
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
I mean, I kind of wrote it so I'm a little biased... ...more
Rebekah Teller
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Seraphina's Lament is unlike anything I have ever read. It's set in a communist state, which had recently been a monarchy, overthrown by the current premier.

Though it's named after Seraphina, the story belongs to several POV characters as much as it belongs to her. She is a slave of the premier, and her twin brother an escaped former slave, working with an underground resistance movement.

While this small group is fighting to help people flee and revolt against the premier, larger forces are at
C.T. Phipps
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grimdark, fantasy

SERAPHINA'S LAMENT is one of those books that is very difficult to describe because it doesn't fall into traditional fantasy tropes. If I had to describe its tropes by analogy to other fantasy works then I would just sound insane. Don't believe me? The closest thing I can think of is, "Stalinist Russia meets Avatar: The Last Airbender." If that sounds like something hard to picture, that's kind of my point. The fact it's not a re-tread of Tolkien, Conan, or even George R.R. Martin gives thi
Rob Hayes
Nov 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautiful, haunting, damning. Grimdark poetry.

You'll have to bear with me, my computer has crashed and I'm writing this review on my phone. Yes, I could wait until my PC is up and running again, but that could take years and I've already been sitting on this review for a few days while I figured out what I wanted to say about this book. Well, I've figured it out so I'm writing the review here and now.

Seraphina's Lament is in some ways the epitome of what I consider to be grimdark. It's set in a
Cameron Johnston
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing

It's incredibly hard to believe that Seraphina's Lament is a debut novel. It's exquisitely written, elegant and accomplished, and quite unlike anything else - it's almost mythic in feel.

It may be a darkly beautiful book but it's also brutal and grim, with cannibalism, murder, starvation, an oppressive regime and political purges to unsettle the reader. This is grimdark, but it does not glorify death and slaughter, instead it paints a bleak and terrifying picture of the descent of a land and peop
Clay Sanger
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
A fairy tale of sorrow, hunger, and the apocalyptic birth of gods – 4-Stars

Without a doubt, “Seraphina’s Lament” by Sarah Chorn is one of the most unique fantasy pieces I’ve read in years. It largely bypasses the traditional storytelling conventions of the modern fantasy genre and taps into formula all its own.

Told in the manner of a literary fairy tale, it’s driven by theme over plot and internal character conflicts dominate center stage against a backdrop of external conflicts — which are them
Alex Khlopenko
Feb 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Originaly for Three Crows Magazine.

Before delving into the review, it is important to establish my bias towards the premise of “Seraphina’s Lament”. I was recommended this book because I’m a Ukrainian and the novel is based on the Soviet genocide of Ukrainians called Holodomor. I was excited and highly suspicious, and naturally so – western writers, even those diligent in their research, usually butcher any topic that is not in their high school curriculum.

Fun fact for the uninitiated – Joseph S
Carrie Chi Lough
Mar 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Seraphina's Lament is a lyrical triumph of storytelling artistry.

I finished this book more than a week ago and since then, I have been floundering around with words hoping to write a decent enough review for Seraphina's Lament. I am still at a loss for the right ones. Seraphina Lament found a home within the darkest parts of my psyche and created a dark melody that I am obsessing over. The story is breathtaking and the more the characters descended into chaos, the more I related. I didn't want
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am jagged edges and shattered glass. I have come to break the world.

A story set in a land suffering after a bloody shift from monarchism to collectivism.

Bleak, harsh, brutal with only a few rays of hope.

Multiple separate POVs converge, drawn together by an unknown force.

To what end? Destruction? Release for those under a harsh rule? Becoming?

You are not broken, Seraphina. You are art. You are the story of every battle you have ever won.

Only the strong would survive what was happening and he wa
Adam Whitehead
Apr 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Sunset Lands are suffering. Political discontent seethes, as the collectivist revolution which promised liberty and freedom from the old autocracy has instead devolved in a brutal, totalitarian dictatorship. The once-verdant farmlands of the east have been devastated by drought, whilst to the west the market towns which thrived on trade other lands have grown poor and destitute. Change is coming, as a wave of terrible hunger rolls in from the east and an ancient, powerful force returns to th ...more
The Write Sisters
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing

How do you describe the gnawing feeling that the world is a dark and horrifying place that you desperately want to know more of? Like a hand grasping about your ankle and pulling you down into another dimension, Seraphina’s Lament grabbed me and didn’t let me go.

The potent use of imagery and elegant words placed one after another, Chorn knows how to get under the skin of her readers and make them feel the wash of emotions from ev
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2 (rounded up)
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader, the author also participated in a killer Q&A with me that you should really read.
I just don't know that I can do an adequate job describing this book -- actually, I do know that I can't do an adequate job describing this book. But I can sort of explain things enough that you might get an idea if this book is for you. Maybe.

This takes place in some sort of Fantasy World, one rich in magic -- elemental magic. There a
Paul English-Wolfe
SERAPHINA’S LAMENT is a unique read, and as such, one that is difficult to adequately review.

There’s grimdark, and then there are people driven to eat their own legs due to hunger.

There’s lyrical writing, and there’s Sarah Chorn’s sumptuous narrative where poetry and allegory dance and weave like a pair of courting birds.

It’s extremely dark with gloriously embellished writing, so if that’s your jam, grab a spoon and dig in.

SERAPHINA’S LAMENT isn’t your traditionally set western fantasy and inste
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-the-book
'The Children didn't even notice. They were too busy peeling skin off the toddler's legs and eating it. She watched in horror as the boy reached down, grabbed a chunk if skin from his own body, and shoved it in his mouth, swallowing almost before he could finish chewing.

This is what the Sunset Lands had turned into

A world, devouring itself.'

What an intense read! It starts off super ominous with an Ascended ( immortal) waking up noticing that the world is dying. We slowly get introduced into this
Kristen Walker
“You must break before you can become.” Those words are ominous but you have no idea just how bad it is until you read this book. It broke me, a little. I don’t know if I Became anything through it but I feel emotionally wrecked after finishing this novel.

And it’s the first in a series. I wasn’t sure, most of the way through, that there would be anything left to say after the book ended. But from the epilogue, it’s obvious that there’s still a lot yet to come. I have no idea which direction it’s
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Full review coming soon!
But for now I gotta say this:
This was one hell of a grimdark, it's totally METAL and the prose is right up there with Rothfuss -not the story, the story is daaaaaaaark brutal and grim in the extreme but with shining beacons of hope! The prose though..... One of the few books that left me speechless. The most quotable book after Bakker and Mark Lawrence to say the least.
Clayton Snyder
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In turns poetic, visceral, and bleak, Seraphina's Lament paints an unflinching picture of the reality of the depths humanity can sink. It reminds me a little of a Bosch painting. Layered with detail, vivid in color, and stark in horror. If Anna Smith Spark is the Queen of Grimdark, Sarah is sure to be her successor. ...more
Tim Martin
Mar 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed, fantasy, ebook
This was a stunning fantasy novel, all the more stunning for being a debut novel, the start of what looks to be a wild ride known as the _The Bloodlands_ trilogy. There is quite a bit to recommend about this book, including its unusual Soviet-inspired setting, the strange nature of magic in this world, its most unusual deities, its evocative prose, several gripping central characters, and the deft and skillful way the author made something so very, very dark compelling and fascinating, that as d ...more
M.L. Spencer
Apr 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Seraphina’s Lament is a dark and gritty tale that follows six would-be saviors of the world in an interesting take on the Chosen One theme. Seraphina and her twin brother Neryan were born with elemental talent. Seraphina wields the gift of fire, while Neryan commands the gift of water. Both have been enslaved in a kingdom ruled by the ruthless Premier Eyad, a sociopathic revolutionary who has come into his own. But while Neryan escaped years ago, Seraphina has continued to be the slave of Eyad a ...more
Michael Baker
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It feels wonderful getting back into reading books. I’ve already finished half the number I did for the whole of 2018. I’m also returning to reviewing, and here is one of the best debuts in a long time for me.

This book is dark fantasy in its purest form, and it does it without the weaknesses a lot of grimdark novels suffer from: edgelord characters doing evil stuff for the sake of it. There is none of that in this book.

Yes, I might gush a bit about this in my review, but I really think it’s grea
E.M. Hamill
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every once in a while you read a book that's unlike anything you've ever read. Seraphina's Lament is that book.
Part fantasy, part zombie, and all grimdark, the book blew me away. Sarah Chorn's prose is lyrical, heartbreaking poetry in so many places that I just had to stop and digest some of the merciless beauty at times.
Seraphina is a fire talent, a kind of Dark Phoenix in a broken body that seethes with rage. Her twin, Varyen, is a water elemental: shapeless and lost without Seraphina, who is
Ulff Lehmann
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In the past decade or so I pretty much stopped reading fantasy. It’s tough reading the same thing one is writing, and I prefer not to fall into the habit of adopting/copying someone else’s style. (I caught myself doing that, and it isn’t fun.)

Now, beforehand, Sarah Chorn is a friend of mine, and before I even wanted to read her book, we had been talking for over a year, about almost everything writing, and a whole lot more.

Seraphina’s Lament had been on my radar pretty much since Sarah and I sta
Luke Tarzian
Apr 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Read this one a while back and was absolutely enthralled. Not a story for the faint of heart, but emotionally complex and dealing with characters who are less than perfect. The representation for the disabled and the mentally struggling is spot on. The world is bleak and the prose is beatifically. Definitely recommend having some tissues handy.
Apr 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A devastating jewel of indie grimdark fantasy. Passionate, poetic, and agonizingly beautiful, this book is a crafted artwork of death, violence, oppression, and magic that enacts a dark and grand drama of gods and mortals caught in the conflict of a dying world. This is one of the best books I have ever read in the genre, and, I honestly think that it stands shining with Mark Lawrence's The Broken Empire Trilogy: Prince of Thorns / King of Thorns / Emperor of Thorns and Anna Smith Spark's The Co ...more
Lynn K : Grimmedian
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Seraphina’s Lament is unique in its telling and as promised by the title it is indeed a lament.
Gods of power have awakened to the death of the world. A call must be sent that changes the magic of those who hear that call. Minor abilities become rampaging forces.
The Sunset Lands have been ravaged by collectivism and the people are dying. The cast of the story must heed the call, and may lose their humanity in the process of becoming one of the brethren of forces that keep the world alive.
How fa
Lood Du Plessis
What a ride!

Holy smokes! This is a debut and a half. Sarah wrote a book that takes you on a ride, while ripping you apart and slowly piecing you back together. From the snippets she posted online while writing the book, I feared overly purple prose but the balance of lyricism and exposition is masterful.

Her characters are relatable in so many ways. ot only did she deliberately choose a diverse cast but she also gave that cast traits that everyone can relate to.

My only disappointment with this bo
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Sarah has been a compulsive reader her whole life. At a young age, she found her reading niche in the fantastic genre of Speculative Fiction. She blames her active imagination for the hobbies that threaten to consume her life. She is a freelance writer and editor, a semi-pro nature photographer, world traveler, three-time cancer survivor with hEDS, and mom to two. In her ideal world, she’d do noth ...more

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