I want to start by thanking Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange with an honest review.
This book was really good, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was so easy to get into and I think it got me out of a bit of a reading slump too!
Maralyth Graylaern is a vintner’s daughter. In secret, she uses magic to help the grapes in their family vineyard grow. That is, until she’s kidnapped and told that her magic is proof of a secret bloodline that she’s a part of, and she has a claim to the throne of Perin Faye.
Perin Faye has suffered for a hundred years, with kings that are greedy and power hungry, under the name of Thungrave. The current king’s second son, Alac Thungrave has never wanted the throne. He’s always hated the dark magic that follows his father and now his older brother everywhere, but his position as the second son makes him heir to that magic if something happens to his brother.
When Maralyth becomes part of a plan to seize the throne and murder the royal family, what happens to the dark magic of the Thungrave kings?
Let’s start with Mara since she was interesting. I’m not really sure how I feel about her to be honest. She was an easy character to follow along with, but she was so on and off about the whole royalty thing. And she kind of fell into it super fast too. I know her father was threatened and everything but I feel like she didn’t really have a thorough thought process there. Also, she tried to save Alac multiple times when the entire plan needed him dead for the throne? I get that she liked him and was falling for him, but do you want the throne or not, because if you do then he kind of needs to die. I don’t know, she was a great character, easy to follow, easy to read with, but I feel like she needed to think her actions through at times.
Alac was probably my favorite point of view. His entire story was so interesting with the dark magic and the locket. I feel like he didn’t really know what was going on at times, and he was definitely kind of entranced by Mara, but I liked his storyline.
Mara and Alac’s relationship was so on and off for me. They started off as enemies, then they turned into friends, then enemies again and then lovers. It was complicated and messy, which I always like, but I feel like they just liked each other because they had to? I didn’t really see any development between them. They just started talking to each other but there was nothing pulling me into their romance. I mean it fit with the story well, but it just didn’t give me the same feeling that I like to see when I’m reading about a developing romantic relationship.
Okay I had a few problems here too. I know that the kingdom that they were fighting over is Perin Faye, however, the world-building needed a lot of work. I was so confused about where exactly they are, and what exactly was going on. It was hard to follow along with the history of Perin Faye’s magic, and how it was transferred from family to family and why it became dark magic, and there was just a lot of information that I feel like I couldn’t fully grasp.
That being said, the few settings that we did see – Graylaern vineyards, Winnie’s cottage residence, Nelgareths Keep, the castle, etc. – I could fully understand what was happening. They were beautifully described and I think that they fit so well with the dark fantasy themes in the story.
There were times I got really into the writing and times I just couldn’t focus. I feel like the book was just long enough to keep me interested. The characters were easy to follow along with and the writing style was fine, but I got confused at the info dumps at times and when talking about the histories, I felt as if I needed a timeline or a family tree or something. There were a lot of names, and I needed a lot of time to process it all.
I enjoyed the book. It was short enough to be a quick and easy read and I got into it quickly. The characters fit perfectly with the story, sometimes giving me second-hand embarrassment. It was a pretty good book and dark fantasy lovers would probably really enjoy it!