This was a review request and I hadn’t checked the blurb before settling into the story… so I was unprepared for what I got, lolol.
There are bird people, monkey/ape like people, gay kings married to his gay trans husband, flying tigers, dragons, mega giant dragons the size of a town, blood magic, assassinations, mind control… I could go on and on about all the stuff that was in this book. This was one of the most creative, innovative, and unique books I’ve read in some time.
There are three main characters, a soldier who recently became a mother, a little girl who found out in the worst way that she can do magic, and the widow of a king. I think I found the widow, Jatson, the most interesting since he had one of the more fucked up storylines. His husband the king dies, but Jatson is having a hard time coming to grips with reality… not his fault though since there’s dragon blood magic fucking with his memories and he can’t remember if his husband was murdered or if he committed suicide. There’s a clear image in his head of his husband slitting his wrists, but that’s not really the way things went down. Jatson has dealt with a near constant onslaught of hatred due to the fact that he’s trans. People purposefully call him the wrong name, address him with the wrong pronouns and treat him like shit. It’s a bleak and brutal book. The little girl’s storyline isn’t any rosier. She figures out she’s Blessed when her dad stabs her mom in the neck… she’s shocked into using her powers and resurrects her mom. This is awesome, but also not awesome because it draws attention to her, and the main villain of the story takes notice of her.
I struggled with the villain in this story. It was just a little over done to the point where it was too much and it stopped feeling real. For example, he supposedly has killed over a trillion people in the last 1,000 years he’s been around. That would mean something like 2 million people dead… per day. That’s roughly the equivalent of the combined casualties from the United States, Britain, France and Australia in WWII every day for a thousand years. I don’t think humans could repopulate that quickly. He’s also just super fucking evil, he doesn’t just kill people in a business-only kind of way – he loves to torture people, the more pain both physical and mental, the better. He mind controls people and makes them kill people they love, eat their own fingers, and other incredibly fucked up shit. At the end there’s a weird sexual twist to the whole thing and it’s just very odd. He has skeletons in a huge host of sexual positions in this lair of his… it’s all just very strange.
Now, the story itself revolves around these three people and how they get tied into this villain character, Ichor. He has a hand in all the world governments, he’s thirsty for power, and does anything to keep it. The three characters by the end are all trying to take him down.
The world building was a little slippery, I couldn’t quite get a grasp on it. There were real world references like pop songs and whatnot, but it did not at all feel like a typical urban fantasy. There wasn’t a ton of background given for the different kinds of governments, or the world at large.
The pacing was a little jumpy because each of the POVs has a past and present timeline and it got pretty confusing at first. Audiobooking this as a first read through maybe wasn’t a great idea, but you really can’t tell if that’s going ot happen or not until you dive into it. I adjusted to the time skips about a quarter of the way through the book. I thought the dialogue felt natural and the prose was entertaining and engaging. There were a couple times where I was like “the fuck?”. Like when someone was described as “shaking like a vibrating dildo”… when they were battling a dragon. It just felt a little out of context in such a dramatic moment to reference a dildo, lol.
All of this said, I had a good time with this book, and it did make me violently emote a few times. I honestly can’t say that happens all that often, but I had genuine moments of rage where I was supposed to, and I felt truly bad for the characters when I was supposed to. This book is worth reading, especially if you want something wildly different. There are some flaws to the book but overall I would still recommend it to people who were intrigued by this review.
Side Note: I am actively trying to read about more diverse characters and read books by marginalized authors, so this fits in nicely with my 2021 goal of being more inclusive in my reading. It can feel like there’s a void of openly trans people in various positions/careers for trans people to relate to, and even finding reading material about their experiences can be difficult to find. The author has written a blog post about being trans and writing a trans character here:
- Tropes: uhhhh
- Tags: Trans MC, Unicorns, flying tigers, bird people, monkey/ape people, dragons, dragon magic, ghosts
- Genre: urban high fantasy?
- Plot: 11/15
- Characters: 9/15
- World Building: 9/15
- Writing: 11/15
- Pacing: 11/15
- Originality: 13/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 6/10
Final Score: 70/100 or 3.5/5 on Goodreads