This was a really good surprise, since the world really went up my alley. Multicultural, and although borrowed from several cultures had a really good way of making it original.
Here, there are some interesting developments. Asha, which clearly remind me a lot of Geisha, and their customs. Although making some clear distinctions too. Not just limiting them to song and dance but also the fact that they can do magic. The also are able to draw runes.
This reminds me of an alternate world with certain cultures at the center of it. Looking at the eight kingdoms, I find that it does include a lot of different cultures, and a lot of magic intertwined to it. I was immersed with the world building of this world, for some strange reason I was enthralled by it.
The writing is another plus point, the descriptions are lovely. Although characters weren’t as complex as I expected. But the lyrical writing worked for me in this case, and clearly expressed itself and managed to keep me reading. Somehow this worked, since the world building happened to be up my alley, as were the writing. Simple, yet beautiful. Also, the one person who I found to be fully fleshed out was Tea, and certain aspect of the side characters weren’t what I predicted too.
As for the main character, Tea. She is fine, she has moments where she is a defined person. She has moments where she needs to grow. This story is about her growth, it is about her becoming powerful. It isn’t about her taking down or saving the world, even though she does it once. But also, one where she becomes the hero. One where she eventually finds her path. She isn’t set on any path as of now, and I like her for that.
All her struggles, the way that sometimes a lot of time passes. Her moments of heroism is slowly built. As for the romance, I didn’t feel it. I did however saw her falling in love, but frankly to me, that doesn’t really affect her decisions. She chose to save another, because she had close ties to her mentor and didn’t want her to die. She is selfless in that sense.
The romance was such a small part, and really to me doesn’t seem all that important. It is subtle, and a lot more telling, which I would prefer. Tea needs to grow, and this book is about her path. It isn’t about her romance, Kance sometimes appears, but he doesn’t appear all the time. Tea is left on her own just to survive, just to make the decisions herself.
And when things doesn’t go her way, when she tries to help another. She chooses to use other means, to become someone who uses her head more than her stubbornness It isn’t about the romance to me honestly, because a lot of the decisions she undertakes doesn’t have really any man she is rooting for. She is simply trying to find her place in the world, and also, eventually change it. I could relate her to the girl who narrated her entire journey, that was believable as even from the ending, Tea would sought many ways out.
She never seemed to be a person who adhered, and isn’t hopeless when it comes to lessons. I was glad they glossed over it, but also giving small glimpses which explained the world and its details.
When the ending came, there were surprising reveals. Some of it seemed convenient, while some seemed quite a bit different. She worked things out with Kalen and his hatred of her. Also, a lot of people in here tend to have a little more about them than I thought. The world isn’t just fully white and black as it seems, to me really. Towards the end, and the middle life gets easier and harder for Tea too.
To me, it isn’t purely black and white. And I liked this book since Tea struggled, she failed, she was relatable. She had many moments where she suffered, where she was forgotten. When she got power, she chose to use it carefully, to use it to achieve her own goals. Also, she would be someone that would take power and go against the customs. That to me, is where I think Tea really found herself.
The ending seemed a bit too easy, and all of a sudden a character was revealed to be that person. Although I did have my suspicions, and also, certain times when I wondered why Tea didn’t bring it up. Although given good context in the end, felt convenient. And that is a rather big flaw of the book.
I recommend this, since it takes time. There isn’t a major villain, or something big happening. Instead, it is Tea learning, growing and slowly becoming that heroine we know she is. It is like Wintersong, where it takes it time to slowly develop the world, slowly have the main character discovering herself. And at the end of the day, emerging as someone else. Someone who matured and fully grown and ready to take on the uphill battle of changing her entire world.
Rating: 4 out of 5