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568 pages, Kindle Edition
First published May 28, 2021
The story is set in a world where dragon spirits enjoy great powers in their domains. They are attached to a specific place/items/etc. like lakes, iron, and forests. They often have a priesthood and they can curse or bless people. Five years ago, a terrible war broke but the queen of the Iron Crown was able to defeat the evil creatures, the Myr, and promised her people peace and prosperity for long years. However, in this book, we discover soon enough that the threat of the Myr is looming again on the horizon and they aren’t gone for good. People who have lost their memory -the “lost souls”- are turning up all around the continent and more bizarre things are happening.
The book is divided into three parts and each chapter is told from a character’s PoV. We follow several characters through the book:
➺ Fenn: he’s a lost soul who finds himself in the Isle of Salt. He’s determined to find out his identity and restore his memories no matter what’s the cost.
➺ Calidra: she’s the second main character. She’s forced to leave her home for several years now, the Isle of Salt, to attend her father’s funeral in Bagalia. She’s reserved and doesn’t trust anyone but would do anything to her partner -Jisyel.
➺ Torsten: an inquisitor for the Iron Crown, he’s cruel and hiding his own secrets. He tortures people in ways even the queen wouldn’t approve of. He’s also very self-righteous with personal motivations. Gladly, we only had chapters from his perspective in the first part.
➺ Apollo: probably my favorite character, his chapters were the most interesting characterisation-wise. He’s an ex-thief who put his old life behind to start a family whom he deeply loved. However, little does he know the cost of his freedom. We meet in him in part 2 and the story automatically improved once he was introduced.
Three other characters get considerable page time as well:
Jisyel: Calidra’s partner. She’s kind and in a lot of ways the opposite of Calidra. She’s been cursed by a dragon spirit and cannot feel anything physical such as pain, smell, taste or touch, or even cold or hot weather. She can get injured and not know because of this curse.
Varlot, a war veteran who spends his life now drinking. One of my least favorite characters.
A priestess who joins them in this journey (she’s one of the better so I won’t say more about her).
I usually avoid rewriting summaries because Goodreads’ are always better than mine but I am always truthful in my reviews so I’ll outright say it. Based on the premise, this book isn’t something I would’ve read if it wasn’t for the SPFBO. It just didn’t appeal to me. And while I enjoyed this book and certainly don’t regret reading it, I have to say. If the book doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, then you’ll rate it 3 stars at best. To really like this book, the premise with dragon spirits and lost souls and all that needs to be appealing to you.
There was a lot of traveling in this book so it was nice to have maps (definitely a plus for the book). I can see why some might consider it as an adventure because, in many ways, it is. We got to discover with Fenn different places in Etrovia (the continent). Another strength of the book is that we never had this info-dumping. More information about the world was revealed as the plot progressed. It was also partially thanks to Fenn’s loss of memory. We learned about the world with him. The writing was good with a few typos that can be fixed with another edit. But all in, this book is well-written for a self-published book.
I started this book towards the end of August and I had to stop reading it repeatedly since I had more urgent books to read (or welp, books I’m feeling more like reading). It took me over a month to read and my main problem was with the first part. The story dragged, while stuff happened, they were not interesting. I wasn’t interested in the story nor in what was happening to our MCs. I stopped at every chapter before Torsten’s PoV because disliked him immensely and couldn’t remotely care about his whereabouts. I do realise they were important to the story and luckily, he didn’t have any more chapters after Part 1 but I still struggled reading that part.
Other than the pace, I didn’t connect with the characters nor was able to relate to them. I didn’t feel a depth to their characterization and Calidra/Jisyel appeared to me often as character tropes. I also couldn’t understand Fenn’s motives especially towards the end. While I am trying to keep this review spoiler-free, this point annoyed enough to mention it.
While the present world-building was explained well enough, I wish we learned more about the ancient history of the world. Also, if we had more of Apollo. He was the best character in the book, honestly. Another thing I can criticize in this book is that there were no shocking revelations nor strong plot twists. I always expect this genre to deliver a strong climax by the end and while here certainly a lot more happened in the third Part, I wanted to be surprised. It also left me curious enough to want to know what will happen in the second book but I doubt I’ll be reading it.
I don’t want to sound too harsh but I believe my experience reading this book would’ve improved immensely if I found the premise intriguing, as I’ve mentioned. That’s why I do recommend you read it before starting this book. I still enjoyed reading the book, part 3 the most, except for Fenn’s final chapter or two (when he got on my nerves). I rated it 3.5 stars is because I know how difficult it is to self-publish a book and yet deliver such good quality. I wish MacRae the best of luck in her writing career, she has the talent.