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Umbertouched by Livia Blackburne
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”Save your honor for those who have honor themselves. Keep your piety for those who don’t spit on the gods.”
THIS WAS SUCH A GOOD BOOK. Holy crap. This was seriously so emotionally draining for me that I had to just sit there for a few days and stew over everything that happened, because otherwise my review would have just been a 25 minute audio recording of me crying and blubbering into the microphone. Umbertouched expanded and improved upon everything that occurred in Rosemarked, and I’m so happy that the series concluded in such a realistic and beautiful way.

When we left off at the end of Rosemarked, there were a lot (read: A LOT ) of questions to still be answered, and I’m so satisfied with the answers we received. I loved every minute of this book.


Hi my name is Rachael and I would die for these characters. The development that was given to us in Rosemarked for Zivah, Dineas, and Mehtap is expanded upon in Umbertouched, and the morally gray parts of all their personalities really shine in this book. Nothing is black and white here, everyone has both redeeming and damning qualities, and I for one adore them all. NO character in this book is without my love except for probably that one asshole healer who shall remain nameless but if you’ve read this then you know who I’m talking about. That butthead.

The characters in this book are classic fantasy archetypes, but Umbertouched subverts these in a way that leads to a highly enjoyable reading experience, creating a book that feels both refreshingly new, and like a treasured story that I have read many times over.
”I killed men in the capital. Some fell to the snake I raise for venom, and others came to harm after I put them to sleep. I used my disease as a weapon to threaten others, and there were times when I was tempted to go beyond a simple threat. Yet after all this, I am still Rosemarked. After all this, Ampara comes ever closer to destroying us.”

Zivah always thought that saving her people and respecting her healer’s vows would go hand in hand, but she finds even more so in Umbertouched that that is not always the case. In this book, we see her try to strike a balance between these two core identities. She makes a lot of questionable choices that I probably wouldn’t have in the same situation, but still remains highly relatable and a good person. (She also apparently knows a bit too much about blood transfusions and I maybe had to skip a few pages because blood is gross. Maybe. )

Dineas is another character who continues to go through his character development, but this time in relations to his PTSD, memory loss, and trying to resist the fact that at his heart of hearts he is definitely a big softie/Hufflepuff. This is my hill and I will die on it. We get to see Dineas develop formerly unknown side effects of the severe medicines he was taking in the first book. I don’t want to say much about his character arc, as I think for him it’s best to go into this one not knowing anything, but I believe that readers of Rosemarked are going to enjoy seeing Dineas take this path to becoming a healthy, functioning human being.

”You speak of Mehtap as if she’s an innocent child. She’s an assassin with a child’s face, and she’s lived an easier life than most.”

Mehtap is as much of a scene-stealer in Umbertouched as she is in Rosemarked. Literally if I’ve talked to you about this series for more than five minutes you probably know how much Mehtap’s character just blows me the fuck away. Her perceived innocence, willingness to kill to get the job done, refusal to lay down and let death come to her silently, and honestly just her utter Slytherin-ness all comes together to make a character who isn’t a hero?? But also isn’t a villain?? And definitely someone that readers can rally behind. Or at least I could.

We also saw the return of some of my favorite side characters in Rosemarked, which was a welcome surprise! The new characters we were introduced to were also well-written, even if they weren’t granted the same opportunities for growth as those who were in both books.

Mehtap is a Trans Lesbian and There’s Nothing You Can Do About It

And now, we take a little side trip in this review to talk about my personal fave Mehtap and why she is totally definitely gay and trans. My evidence to Mehtap being a trans lesbian is this: all the awesome shit she does to help people and also kick ass, take names just shows evidence of chaotic gay energy. So there. “but that’s not real evidence!!” well to you I say this: I’m gay and I said so.

OTP: Do We Part as Friends?
”We’ve been wandering in the dark this entire mission, taking steps as best we could and hoping not to trip and fall. I could yell at Zivah, tell her she should have done her part better. I could point at the shattered parts of myself and tell her that’s her doing. But then I would still be stumbling in the darkness, only this time, I’d be alone.”
Y’ALL KNOW I love a good hate to love, and Zivah and Dineas have to be one of my favorite OTP’s that I’ve ever read in any YA book ever. Every time they talked or touched or thought about each other I was just sitting there in the background like
The two left off in Rosemarked with an awkward, but pretty good understanding of each other, and I loved seeing their relationship progress further in Umbertouched. I literally pretty much always hate romance in YA fantasies, but Zivah and Dineas have made me rethink that blind hatred.


Is this series pseudo-high fantasy? Yes. Does that make it any less enjoyable? Hell no. Or, at least, not for me. I tend to rate books based on how much of a good time I have while reading them, and I had such an amazing time with Umbertouched, so five stars for you!

But, at the same time, the climax didn’t make a lot of sense to me?? The plot was super character-driven, which I loved, but the more I thought about the end battle scene/the scene on the boat, the more it didn’t make sense. (view spoiler)

Because the plot is so character driven, it does move pretty slowly. But I kind of liked that? At its heart, Umbertouched is about its characters, and if you love people-centric books then you’ll love the Rosemarked series.

(view spoiler)

The Ending

YES the ending of this book gets it’s own f*cking section because it made me cry seriously so much but it was also super satisfying! It wasn’t too happy, wasn’t too sad, just really bittersweet and hopeful.

I know a lot of readers aren’t going to like it, but I thought it was the most believable conclusion for the series. It felt real, and that’s what matters. I thought it was perfect and it also leaves room for a third book/novella if that were to happen sometime in the future!

SO, dear reader of this review, here’s what you need to do before Umbertouched comes out: REREAD ROSEMARKED. I’m so glad I did before I picked up this novel, because I remembered so much more about what plot points needed to be resolved. I loved this. I hope that everyone who reads it loves it. I love YOU if you’re reading this review. Hearts for days!
”’Our hearts are not so easily changed,’ I say. ‘Nor what runs through our veins.’”

hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhheeuuuuuuuuuuuehfueeeeeeeeeeeeeeefhjfeuuuuu (those are the thoughts going through my brain right now).

I'm dead inside but also so satisfied by that ending and I would give ANYTHING for ANY of these morally gray characters literally how can you even make characters that nuanced it's a gift

wow. just WOW.

full rtc


update 5/19/18

also the phrase "reluctantly falling in love" is literally the funniest and best way to describe zivah and dineas's relationship lmaoooo

update 1/30/18

expected release: 2018

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Reading Progress

November 16, 2017 – Shelved
November 16, 2017 – Shelved as: desperately-waiting-for
January 31, 2018 – Shelved as: covers-that-could-murder-me
June 14, 2018 – Started Reading
June 14, 2018 –
page 0
0.0% "okay okay I told myself I was going to finish all my reviews and all my other books on my currently reading before starting this but I CAN'T HELP IT I NEED TO KNOW WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN TO MY BAES (also what kind of absurd pipe dream is it to finish all my currently-reading books?? I should have known better)"
June 16, 2018 –
18.0% "zivah and dineas are KILLING ME"
June 19, 2018 –
54.0% "reading this book is like reading the "all my friends are dead" book"
June 24, 2018 – Finished Reading
September 3, 2018 – Shelved as: recs-books-that-will-make-you-cry
September 3, 2018 – Shelved as: recs-diverse
September 3, 2018 – Shelved as: recs-strong-women
September 3, 2018 – Shelved as: underrated-series
September 3, 2018 – Shelved as: 2018-faves
September 3, 2018 – Shelved as: diversity
September 3, 2018 – Shelved as: fantasy
September 3, 2018 – Shelved as: easy-reading
September 3, 2018 – Shelved as: five-star
September 3, 2018 – Shelved as: i-feel-so-blessed-hot-diggity-dog
September 3, 2018 – Shelved as: make-it-gayer
September 3, 2018 – Shelved as: read-as-an-arc
September 3, 2018 – Shelved as: rep-disability
September 3, 2018 – Shelved as: rep-mental-illness
September 3, 2018 – Shelved as: rep-poc

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