We Are Blood And Thunder

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

This definitely didn't go the way I expected it to from the synopsis, but I ended up enjoying it nonetheless. There's necromancy, magic, dark forests, and cult-like temples, and I enjoyed the way the magic system was built up throughout the novel. Although I didn't connect with many of the characters, that ending really knocked me for six. Game of Thrones eat your heart out.
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Thank you to Netgalley, the author and publisher for a copy of this book.

The atmosphere, characters and the plot for all these books are good.  However, I think all the fantasy novels I read now are compared to Sarah J Maas Throne of Glass series and nothing can live up to it.  This comes a close second though :-)
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Thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

This YA Fantasy has a really cool premise and setting which piqued my interest initially but unfortunately didn't hold it. 

I didn't really gel with the two central characters and I felt there could have been more made of the worldbuilding. The magic system pretty much lost me completely and the instalove was the final nail in the coffin for me. 

I don't want to flog a dead horse with personal criticism. This is not a bad book by any means and I know some people absolutely loved it, but it didn't really float my boat I'm afraid.
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I’m not really going to do much of a non-spoilery section because I have so much I want to talk about that contains spoilers, but here’s a paragraph on what I thought of the book overall.

Non-Spoilery Section:

Firstly I loved the main characters. The story is told from two perspectives, Lena and Constance. These two women are so different and at first they don’t seem to be very connected. However, the way that the story is weaved together brings their two stories so close that by the end its impossible to see how they didn’t relate to each other at the start.

The world and its magic system is another aspect of the book that I really enjoyed. The book is set in two primary locations, The Duke’s Forest, which is the place where the storm cloud which haunts the plot of the book is situated, and the City of Kings. Both places and their societies are based around magic. The Duke’s Forest and its people and afraid of magic and the people who wield it, while in the City of Kings there are temples specifically to train mages and improve their magical abilities. I really loved how these two settings worked within the story and also how the storm cloud that hangs over the Duke’s Forest not only informs the settings but is almost a character of its own.

The final thing I really liked in this book was the politics. The politics themselves weren’t overbearing but they did play quite an important role in the whole story. What really impressed me was how the politics were woven into the story, there wasn’t a lot of info. dump moments because Kesia Lupo has managed to make it so that every piece of information you need is intermingled with the plot and the characters and their actions. It made reading this book engrossing and really enjoyable.


So let’s go back to the characters. Because I have a lot to say about the characters.

Firstly Lena. I think out of the three main characters (Lena, Constance and Emris) Lena was my favourite. She was the outcast in the story, the character who really didn’t understand much about the world she existed in because her life had only ever been one of isolation underground in the Duke’s Forest as a cryptling. I really liked how Lena was a character that was quite often unsure and always questioning. She learnt something on every page I turned and grew and grew as the story went on. I especially liked how she learnt to accept who she was. She went from being afraid of the magic inside her, to not truly understanding what it was or even who she was in the temples, to wanting to get rid of it when she returned to the Duke’s Forest, to finally realising that it was a part of her she couldn’t live without and accepting it for that. Lena felt so genuine to me and so real, I couldn’t help but not fall in love with the scared little cryptling girl who grew two be a kick-butt mage.

Constance was a bit of a wildcard for me. When the story started and we first met Constance I wasn’t really sure about her. She came across to me as a character who didn’t feel very real or fleshed out. We got a lot of backstory about her but she didn’t seem to have any qualities other than feeling entitled to her birthright. It was only as the story progressed that I really started to enjoy reading Constance’s part, and I think a lot of that had to do with many of the revelations about the storm cloud being closely tied to her: her trying to find the source of the storm cloud, her revealing that it was a necromancy spell and finally the reveal that she actually cast it while trying to rip it from Lena’s body. What I really liked about her character was that she completely surprised me in the end. She was coming across at first as the do-gooder woman who just wanted justice for her people and to stop the great evil. I never expected her to be the great evil! Except in the end she wasn’t really. She was really human. When she gave her reasonings for casting the storm and for wanting to claim it again it gave her a sense of humanity that I really liked, even if that stone sank to the bottom when she refused to help Lena bring Emris back to life. Constance turned out to be a lot more complex than she first appeared.

So to talk about Emris I also need to talk about the romance in the story because a lot of my thoughts about him are related to that. After Lena, Emris is definitely my favourite of the three main characters. I loved that Emris was a bit of an enigma, a mystery. He reveals enough about himself to be interesting, but not so much that you know a lot about him. His perspective as someone who had been a rogue and gone through the same things that Lena was a really great way to learn about the temples and the system of magic with the setting of the City of Kings. His mysterious character also meant that I never really knew what to expect from him in each chapter. He kept a lot of things close to his chest and that allowed for some really great world and culture building using Emris’ eyes and his actions. I think what I liked about him most though was his relationship with both Constance and Lena. With Constance the relationship is complicated. He’s gone through a lot with her and because of her. When it turned out that they were both members of the Temple of Mythris a lot of the angst made sense. However, Emris’ relationship with Lena was one that I jumped on board right from the very beginning. I just loved how natural it was! They go from being strangers, to tentatively trusting each other, to what I would call friends. It’s only in the heat of the moment that they both realise that they mean more to each other than that. I also loved that even at the end of the book its not true love. Emris and Lena both make it clear that they are leaving the Duke’s Forest and that this will be a chance for them to live and grow and learn more about each other. It was love, but it was a real kind of love that slowly grows, tentatively changes and requires work.

The Justice was another character in the story that I fell in love with (or loved to hate)! There are really two reasons for this. First I loved his character in general. I loved how misguided and yet completely dedicated he was. He was a fanatic, but he truly believed what he was doing was right. Secondly I liked how he was a kind of misdirection. Both the Justice and Dr Thorn appear to be the bad guys in the beginning. (Of course it becomes apparent quite quickly that Dr Thorn was being used by the Justice for his own gains, and I particularly liked how Kesia Lupo wove the gauntlet into the story to just emphasise that and add another really interesting aspect to the plot.) However, as it turned out, the Justice was the lesser of two evils when put beside Constance and that was an aspect of the plot I really loved. With so many people out for power and themselves and their own gains it was very hard to tell who was the bad guy and who wasn’t.

I was surprised honestly just how many characters there were in this book, especially considering it is a standalone novel. A few of them, particularly the ones I have mentioned, were really great. They drove the story and grew and changed as the book went on. However, there were a few characters that I felt either needed more fleshing out, or needed a smaller part in the story. The two that really stand out for me are Winton and Xander. These two characters in particular seem to play a large part in the story when Constance first returns to the Duke’s Forest. However, as the story progresses their involvement dwindles and almost becomes obsolete. Xander in particular was a bit of a let down for me, he started off really strong, but to me in the end it didn’t feel like he had much purpose.

Magic! I can’t talk about this book without talking about magic and the magic system that Kesia Lupo built. On the surface the system seems quite simple really. People with magic in them are called mages and can use that magic. However, as the novel progressed the system unravelled and became much more complex and that has a lot to do with how the magic system is intermingled and intertwined deeply with the world building.

In the setting of the Duke’s Forest magic is something to be feared, mages something to be hunted. The storm cloud, which the whole book is obviously set around, is literally a cloud that hangs over the heads of the city, oppressing the people and reinforcing the fear of magic and its users. I thought it was really interesting that this was a city plagued by magic that was literally cut off from everywhere else because of the pestilence magic had caused. The isolationism of the city became a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. People feared magic, yet magic was causing all the problems in the first place, so people were influenced by the magic, so magic and its users were hunted, so people feared magic. I really liked this perspective and this idea. It’s unusual to find a book that has such a small setting where magic is feared and outlawed and hunted. Starting the story in this setting is also one of the reasons that Lena’s character growth and change is so effective. She starts as the girl hunted for magic she didn’t know, goes to a place where magic is accepted and taught before she has to return to the place that feared her so much they tried to execute her, to use the magic she has to save the city from destruction by magic. Within the setting of the Duke’s Forest, magic is shown to be both good and bad. It is the setting that truly emphasises one of the key rules of the book: chaos is bad, in the wrong hands its worse, magic is only good or bad based on its user.

The magic within the City of Kings was even more interesting. I loved the fight between the traditional temples and their gods that mages bound themselves to, and the ‘mechanical magic’ or Lord Chatham and his followers, and how in the middle of these two were Rogues. I liked the fact that the whole world was built, not just parts of it, every temple was named even if we didn’t see it, every belief of Lord Chatham and his followers explored even if it didn’t have a direct consequence for the story. Having Lena experience the confusion of trying to decide what kind of magic worked for her and not really finding her place in either created a complex situation where magic had to be explored and revealed for Lena to discover who she was. It was another one of those moments where world building, the magic system and character growth were all bound up together incredibly well.

I also really liked how there was a kind of consequence of magic, Chaos. In a lot of stories magic is only bad when used for the wrong reasons, and while Chaos was always described as an evil force that took over and controlled someone’s magic, it was never only reserved for bad people. There were instances where Chaos was involved because of a characters lack of teaching in magic (something Lena is often warned of) or because they were too weak willed to contain it, but so ambitious that they wanted its power. What I really loved though was Lena’s magic and how it related to Chaos. When it is revealed that Lena’s magic is actually the heart of the storm spell it is described at that point as being a kind of Chaos. What Lena’s magic shows is that the magic in this system, the Chaos that destroyed Lord Chatham and some of his followers, is not an unstoppable or uncontrollable force. It is all about strength of will and character, as much as the teaching that mages receive.

The best part of the book for me, after everything had happened, was the climax. The pacing and the plot kept me hooked until the very last page. Constance’s betrayal, Emris’ attempt to banish the storm cloud magic, Lena claiming the magic for herself again but killing Emris in the process, bringing Emris back to life. It all happened so quickly, but it didn’t feel jolty or too fast or too slow. It was pacey and gripping and there were so many ‘no way’ moments that I didn’t know what was going to happen next. The climax of this story was a well-woven, well-executed event that had me reading as fast as I could while also not wanting it to end as every piece of the puzzle slotted together.

The ending of the book itself was unexpected. The only thing I didn’t like about it was how we jumped from the crypts when Lena brings Emris back to life, to a few weeks later when the aftermath of the events was being dealt with. It felt a little jolty to make that jump, but I understand that either the jump was made or the book would have had to end with the storm cloud being dissipated. I did like that there was a sense of resolution. The bones of those executed for using magic were laid with the ancestors, Winton was in charge and Lena and Emris were planning for the future. The jump gave the book a promise for a hopeful future. What I liked most about it though was Constance’s funeral pyre. The moment where Lena acknowledges that she wouldn’t be the person she was without Constance, no matter the bad things Constance did. This moment showed a maturity to Lena’s character that I feel is often lacking in YA books, there is an understanding on Lena’s part that out of every tragedy there is something good, that you cannot remove the bad and expect to be the same person. There is an understanding, as Constance’s body burns, that for Lena to become the person she was to become the person she needed to be, she needed Constance and her ugly agenda. She needed to see the end of Constance’s story so that she could begin her own.

All in all We are Blood and Thunder was a tale of magic, politics and high stakes adventure wrapped up in characters that had me gripped from beginning to end.
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2.5 stars

Lena lives in a city that has been sealed off in quarantine for several years. This is because of a strange, magical storm cloud and the Pestilence which has killed many.
Sentenced to death by the Justice, who believes that Lena is a mage, she manages to escape, but finds herself surrounded by magic, something she has been taught to fear.
Constance left the city years ago but has returned to stop the spell that caused the strange cloud.
Can Lena control her new magic?
Will Constance be able to stop the storm from destroying the city and everyone inside?

I really liked the premise for We Are Blood and Thunder, but for me it fell flat.
I didn't particularly connect with Lena or Constance, and there weren't any characters that stood out for me.
I found the plot to be very predictable. There were only one of two things that I didn't see coming, and given that the book is over 400 pages, this made it feel even longer.
The setting was interesting, as well as the magic and the concept of pledging yourself to the Gods. I would be intrigued to find out more about how the Gods were able to control people's magic and about Chaos.
The writing style was okay. It was easy enough to follow but I wasn't gripped and at times I found myself skimming the pages.
I'm disappointed that I didn't enjoy this more.

Overall this was an okay but disappointing read.
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I didn't really enjoy this one, I thought the concept was interesting but the execution didn't live up to it. The chapters were so long and though it started well enough, there was a huge lag in the middle and it didn't really pick up again until the end. I found the characters flat and the worldbuilding kind of confusing, honestly I was mostly reading to get to the end and not through any kind of enjoyment which was a real shame.
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“She felt wanted. Calm. Secure in the knowledge she was worth something. Because she had something of worth.” 
We Are Blood And Thunder is one of the best YA fantasy novels I’ve read in a while.The storytelling is great with a plot that is captivating and well thought out, the writing is almost lyrical and the characters are complex!I liked how each chapter was from a different character’s point of view, if something was left as a cliff hanger in Lena’s point of view you had to continue and read Constance’s chapter before you could find out what happened which really caused the pages to turn even quicker for me!
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This is a great debut, a town enshrouded by a magical storm and a girl who works with the dead having an adventure in a female led fantasy? Yes please.

With a barnstormer of an ending this doesn't disappoint. Kesia Lupo is an author to watch in the future.
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I really wanted to love this one but it just didn't work for me. The characters didn't feel fleshed out enough and I wasn't invested in them or understood their motivations. The ending also felt a bit rushed. The premise was great though and this had the potential to be brilliant.
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Where to start with this book? There are so many things I want to talk about. I'll start with the setting. I was convinced, from the description of the storm cloud, that this book would read as kind of a post-apocalyptic fantasy story (akin to N K Jemisin) but was surprised to find that at least half of this book read more like the detailed court politics and intrigue of a Melinda Salisbury novel. I love both types of story but it's always nice to be surprised. I loved the way the storm cloud was always a looming threat but that life was still going on in a kind of new normal. It was interesting to read a world where everything was going wrong but people were still living their lives. It was cool to have that kind of resilience of society as opposed to the normal societal breakdown.

That's the best word I can use for this book, it surprised me. I was surprised by how much I liked both characters. I found that you got the best of both worlds. You get the 'young girl learning that she is more powerful than she ever believed and harnessing her magic' storyline and you also get the 'girl who knows her power claims her rightful place in her own society and takes no nonsense from anyone'. Often my problem with books that have dual POV where the characters are clearly connected in some plot-relevant way is that these characters are separated before we have a chance to get to know them together. In this instance Lupo manages to have these characters barely ever meet one another, not really knowing of each other's existence, but still have both stories fit together - it absolutely feels like one cohesive book as opposed to two books that only come together at the end. 

One of the strongest selling points of this book that I can't go into much detail about in this review because it would be spoilerific is the ending. Just trust me - it's amazing and phenomenally well done and basically sold the whole book to me and means I will absolutely be recommending it to anyone who loves YA fantasy but is feeling a little stagnant. You'll just have to trust me - it's great.

There is some romance in this book. This was the only aspect that felt kind of 'classic YA' to me, but it manages to fall into place within the wider plot to the point where you don't really have to notice it if you don't want to - but it's a nice addition if you do! Those who enjoy the kind of romance that springs forth from 'let me train you how to do the thing' will hopefully be pleased with this one...

Can you tell I loved this book? For me a five-star rating is 99.9% based on gut feeling and this hit that for me. I feel as though I've been stuck in a string of four-star ratings lately and this book was so refreshing, simultaneously bringing together a lot of my favourite things about this genre and also flipping them on their head so they read totally new. I will certainly be recommending it to all my fellow YA fantasy fans.

My rating: 5/5 stars

I received a free digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
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Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

We are Blood and Thunder follows two point of view characters: Lena, a societal outcast from an isolated dukedom on the run for the crime of being a mage, and Constance, a woman who has returned to her childhood home to search for a cure for the mysterious storm cloud that has brought nothing but trouble.

I found both characters’ stories had enough intrigue to keep you interested, both weaving together to tell one complete and simple story. Lena, learning about the new parts of the world alongside the reader and Constance, who already knows the world and instead is digging below the surface to uncover its secrets. They were both driven characters, although in unique ways which kept the character voices from blending together.

With Lena learning to embrace who she is and Constance struggling to face the person she used to be in comparison to who she is now, there are a lot of interpersonal conflicts that add to the drama of the whole thing.

I liked a lot of the side characters, all of which had their place and purpose. In particular, Emris stole the show for me – his backstory is definitely something I want to know more about. He legit could carry a fantastic story with just a prequel.

My favourite part was definitely the world building of this land. I loved the magic system and the gods and how the religion interconnects with how magic is viewed in the world. There was the way that more steampunk-y technology is weaved into this world – mechanical devices infused with magic – which really stood out to me as something different in the fantasy world.

The whole mystery around the storm cloud definitely kept my interested peaked. Lupo did a decent job at revealing little bits in both point of view characters and bringing them together. And the plot twist really caught me by surprise!

There were some aspects of the plot I wanted more from – for example, the non-magical conflict in the dukedom was something I would have loved to read in detail. All the political intrigue I feel would have helped build this world even further than it already is. These shortened sections did help keep the pacing at a quick speed but to have them unravel in a slower manner would have helped with some of the trickier character and plot developments.

Some of the characters were also quite forgiving of what both Lena and Constance had chosen to do throughout the story, and that took away some of the stakes when it came to their relationships with other people. These characters also felt one dimensional at times, their personality made up of one particular trait. However, as a lot of these characters are shown basically only in one character’s POV, I am willing to believe that this could just be how she reviews them.

We Are Blood and Thunder is a unique debut with an awesome world and some engaging characters. Lupo’s writing is detailed and easy to read. There are some beautiful descriptions of the world, and the way that magic is shown within the book is done incredibly well. There is so much potential here and I look forward to find out what Lupo writes next!
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We Are Blood & Thunder is a stunning, multifaceted and wonderfully entertaining standalone young adult fantasy debut from a new voice in the genre. So easy to pick up, virtually impossible to put down. I admit that it isn't the most original plot in the world, but there are so many aspects of the book that are to be admired and Ms Lupo manages to avoid most fantasy tropes to her credit. In fact, the author subverts some age-old tropes which was quite refreshing. 

The storytelling is great with a plot that is captivating and well thought out, the writing is almost lyrical and flows beautifully from one page to another and each character is complex and multilayered just like us humans. I particularly appreciated the fact that each character was not simply cast as bad or good as they had, like us, a complicated outlook and three-dimensionality. 

The plot encompasses many different topics - magic, history, secrets and betrayal. The way it is structured is genius and works to ensure you keep turning those pages. Each chapter alternates back and forth between Lena and Constance's perspectives. I certainly wasn't expecting the plot twist towards the end so it was a welcome surprise. This is a very assured female character-driven debut which fantasy fans will devour just as I did.

Many thanks to Bloomsbury Publishing for an ARC.
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A city, secluded and quarantined since a great disaster, is the setting. Lena, hunted by her fellow inhabitants, is trying to get out. Constance, who grew up outside the city, is trying to get in. And on the horizon a storm is brewing – one propelled by magic not nature. Each young woman holds half the solution and their paths are about to collide.


This was gripping and exciting, skirting or subverting most YA tropes. I enjoyed both protagonists POVs and found the book fast paced and engaging. Really enjoyed this unusual YA fantasy.
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HOLY COW this book was AMAZING!!! Beautiful cover, beautiful writing. I literally cannot recommend this book enough. Both Lena and Constance were enjoyable to read about. The plot of this book was totally unique. I was sucked in from the first page, which is honestly a rarity for me. Sometimes it takes me a couple of chapters, sometimes it takes me half of the book to finally get into it. This one gripped me from THE FIRST PAGE. Seriously pick this one up!
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This book was exactly my kind of thing. It's a fantasy young-adult stand-alone debut novel and that is a lot of words. It has two main characters - Lena and Constance - who are strong female protagonists who tell the story through alternating chapters.

Both women's stories are equally interesting, as both settings - Duke's Forest and The City Of Kings - seem full of possibilities. However, the pace is a little off as is usually the case with the alternating chapters between two characters format. The world building was simple but good, however I did feel like the magic side of things could've been explained slightly better.

If you like magic, strong female protagonists and a vast world to discover then this is the book for you.

The ending was absolutely excellent, save for being a bit rushed.
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Unfortunately, I cannot give this book a starred rating, as I did not finish it... for the purpose of Netgalley, I will rate it as 3 stars to keep it completely neutral.  

I was SO looking forward to reading this and it had been on my radar for months, but it just didn't live up to expectations. I very, very rarely DNF books-- especially advanced copies... but I couldn't read any more of We Are Blood and Thunder past the 30% mark. I won't be posting this review on my Goodreads or my blog. 

There were a few things that I enjoyed about We Are Blood and Thunder and I think that it would be well-suited for many readers. If you're interested in stories about magic and persecution or curses, then We Are Blood and Thunder might be an excellent fit. If you like unique world-structures and dual perspectives in a story, then you should probably add this to your TBR and see if it sparks some interest. 

However, for me, the storytelling was a bit flat and lifeless. Even 30% of the way in, I realised I hadn't bothered to remember the characters' names and found myself flipping back to the chapter beforehand to try and remember what I had missed. It was as if the book immediately went out of my mind the second I put it down... and then I would pick it up again only to find that I hadn't really missed that much or I had remembered exactly what I needed to. Both main characters read as stiff and unrealistic to me-- their reactions to major events were so wildly passive and accepting that it seemed like the plot was just steering them through... and there was nothing about the plot that gripped me in a way to make up for it. It was a strange combination of information dumps about character backstory (which really don't bother me in the slightest) AND being thrown into an immersive story to figure it out myself... except the stuff that the info dumps focused on was not what I needed or wanted more information about. As a result, it seemed clumsy and confusing... and for me, completely unmemorable. When it came to 30% and I realised that instead of actively reading, I was instead saying to myself over and over: 'come on, you can finish it, it's reading really fast, just keep going' I couldn't bring myself to open it again and called it quits. 

Does that mean it's a terrible book? No-- absolutely not. There were a lot of things to possibly interest other readers, but for me, it was a DNF.
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This book is a wonderful addition to the YA fantasy genre,

Lena has grown up as a cryptling in Duke's Forest, tending to the revered dead and forbidden from venturing above ground. Whilst Lena is trying to escape a death sentence, Constance is trying to get in after fleeing the city years before to avoid her own magic being discovered, she's now keen to return to find the source of the spell that has taken hold of Duke's Forest. The narrative alternates between both of them.

The plot was fast paced and intriguing, there were a few twists and turns in this book that I didn’t see coming.  I enjoyed how different both Lena and Constance were, with Lena being determined and hopeful leaving in search of her magic and who she was and Constance who was the more complex character going back to her hometown to try and find the heart of the spell. Both were written well but I did find myself wanting to read more from Lena's POV.

I enjoyed the writing style of this book and the unique magic system, I did find some faults, but these didn't take away from my enjoyment of this book overall; it is a wonderful debut full of likeable characters, adventure, and incredible world-building.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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I was lucky to be given a physical arc of this book at an event and without the physical copy, I don't think I could have read this arc. The kindle file has a lot of extra spacings in it, most of the time splitting words into 2 or 3 sections which made reading very jarring. I wouldn't have been able to finish this from the kindle version.

However, I loved this book. The writing was really engaging and the characters were extremely interesting which meant that I flew through this book!

I have a soft spot for anything to do with necromancy so I will definitely be buying a finished copy!
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I loved this, it was a bit slow in the middle but not enough for me to drop any stars. I loved Lena so much, she is a wonderful MC and so interesting and so human. Emris I adored too, this took twists and turns I didn’t see coming and was original and creative. A must read and up there with my favourite read of the year so far. Amazing 

Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion
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This is a difficult one for me to rate. When I first picked it up, I loved the atmosphere and the world and the (admittedly confusing) magic - but for some reason I really struggled to get through this book. I could only manage a chapter a day and I never felt particularly connected to any of the characters. 

I also figured out the direction the book was taking quite early on, so the last 60 or so pages weren't really a surprise to me and the ending left me feeling a bit disappointed and deflated to be honest.
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