This book blew me away.
I wasn't sure what to expect going in, this author is new to me, and I was a little put off by the low average rating on the reviews that I had seen floating around. But let me tell you, this book worked for me. I read it all in one day, which is rare for me these days.
Aissa and her twin sister Zandria are Magi, and they have been in training their whole lives to take down the Technocrat empire that has oppressed and persecuted their people. Aissa is the more serious and reserved of the sisters, while her sister is impulsive and charming. The story is told through Aissa's eyes, and the closer that she get's the enemy the more she finds everything that she was taught may be a lie.
This book is fast paced and engaging, with fantastic speculative, fantasy steampunk worldbuilding. I loved uncovering the layers of this fresh and imaginative setting, how it juxtaposes the powers of the Magi against the cold science of the Technocrats, as well as the dark and light sides of both. This book has intrigue, mystery, and many twists along the way, which made me not want to put it down.
This book was marketed as a Romeo and Juliet re-telling, and while there were shades of forbidden love, sacrifice, and betrayal, as well as two warring peoples, I think that this story takes that inspiration and makes it something completely its own. I also saw that it drew comparison to Marissa Meyer's Renegades Trilogy, to which I wholeheartedly agree.
Aro is a very intriguing character, he is compassionate and determined. He is willing to make up his own mind, and not just follow what he is told. I loved the layers in his character. Remy is also a very interesting character, a lifelong friend of Aissa and Zandria, he is at times brooding and secretive, and there were times when I didn't know what to think of him. The side characters were not as fleshed out, and even though Zandria was Aissa's twin, I felt that she could have been explored more to give me more than just Aissa's feelings to go on.
As for content I would say that it is PG-13 for violence, disturbing scenes. There are a few heated kisses, and two characters fall asleep together, but it doesn't go any further than that.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this speculative fantasy, with its excellent worldbuilding, fantastic tension throughout, and strong, likable, and mysterious characters. I loved learning about the world, the differences in culture between the Technocrats and Magi, and as the book progressed, everything started to fall into place, while simultaneously raising more questions, all leading up to the explosive climax that left me wanting more. I will definitely be picking up its sequel when it releases. Can it be August 2021 already?
I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.