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This book follows a dual perspective of two characters. We have Lia, a young queen ascending a corrupt throne determined to be better than her predecessor and root out the corruption that has overtaken her court. We also have Xania, a baroness determined to avenge her father’s suspicious death. The two women are united by their mutual friend Matthias and by their plots to take down the same man, Vigrante. Xania becomes Lia’s spymaster, known as Whispers, and the two begin working together to better the court and country while also developing feelings for each other.
The most difficult reviews to write are the ones for the books you love. It is easy to pick out flaws but much harder to find a dozen different ways of saying how much you love something so I apologise in advance for what may not be the most coherent review as I ADORED this book.
Okay, I have to be honest here, my favourite part of this book was by far the romance. I loved loved loved Lia and Xania together, their chemistry and their yearning. I adored the flirting through sapphic novels and now have unrealistic expectations for my future girlfriend. The slowburn aspect was really well executed and I loved that Xania was demi and we could see this through her POV. On a similar note, I really loved that there is absolutely no homophobia in this world, that different sexualities are completely normal and not even labelled. There were also so many queer characters in this book and I really adored how casually even minor characters' sexualities were mentioned (for example, 'his husband', 'her wife', etc.).
Although I was admittedly mainly reading the book for its romance, I also really enjoyed the main plot. The court and political intrigue was really interesting and twisty, I just loved the dynamics of the court and trying to figure out the truth and people’s loyalties. There was some great action as the characters tried to uncover the corruption and deal with the people involved. Xania’s position in the treasury was also really interesting and I loved how it played into her duties as Whispers.
However, where the book fell down for me was the world building. The reader isn’t told an awful lot about Lia’s country, Edar, and the political system that plays such an important role in the book. This made it sometimes a bit confusing to follow. The step system which is used to divide the nobility into classes of who’s the richest/most influential also isn’t explained. I did eventually work it out from context but I feel like it should have been explained, especially as this element of class plays a real role in many of the characters’ relations and Xania’s position in court.
But overall, I really did enjoy this book. I adored Lia and Xania’s relationship and the sapphic positivity really came through when I needed it. I mean, this line? “She loved me as I loved her, fierce as a bloodied blade.” Gorgeous. We love fierce sapphics who are only soft for each other.
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