Catching up on the reviews of the many books I read while recovering from my operations last year.
This one is a classic ‘couldn’t put it down’, as I’ve come to expect from this author.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The queen of Verdane died in childbirth, delivering a stillborn daughter. It should all have ended there, but the crippled necromancer Barus breathed life into the infant and raised her as his own. Aster’s loving, innocent childhood is shattered when the Vicar of the Red Order, a man who holds Barus responsible for the death of his eldest son, comes hunting them.
Separated from her beloved father and forced to flee, Aster leads the hunters away to enable Barus to escape. And then she meets Joreh, the Vicar’s younger son, a man with a conscience and a true sense of justice. He abhors Aster for her ability to raise the dead, and the fact she was born dead herself, and yet he cannot condone the Order’s edict to execute her without trial.
And so begins a massive adventure that takes in magic, dragons, a quest through a dangerous forest, kingdoms at war and kingdoms trying to prevent war, a struggle for the crown of Verdane, and a highly complex relationship between Aster and Joreh. The pace leaves no room for a breath and Peach’s compelling cast, including the well-developed secondary characters, kept me reading well into the night.
Peach does not shy from the horrors of persecution and the violence of war, not to mention the schemes of rulers using innocents regardless of consequences, in this richly imagined world evoked by the author’s exquisite prose. I won’t expound on the ending, as that would be too easy to spoil for the reader, I just suggest that if you adore excellent world building, unusual quirky characters, magic, and a plot that while not overly complicated, is highly satisfying, you go ahead and read it.
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