Definitely not what I was expecting, but I was pleasantly surprised by what I found (and with lots of owls!)
Joomia and Aula are Chosen. They will never be normal. They can never be free.
On the last island on Erthe, Chosen Ones are destined to enter Ariadnis on the day they turn eighteen. There, they must undertake a mysterious and deadly challenge. For Joomia and Aula, this means competing against each other, to end the war that has seethed between their cities for nine generations.
As the day draws nearer, all thoughts are on the trial ahead. There’s no space for friendship. No time for love. However much the girls might crave them.
But how you prepare for a task you know nothing certain about? Nothing, except that you must win, at whatever cost, or lose everything.
What is perhaps the most interesting aspect of this book is the setting. I had to do a fair amount of consulting the map in the opening of the book to grasp how it all fit together but essentially we have the world above (Athenas) which has technology and trains prophets to use their skill and the world below (Metis) which uses nature and does not like the gift of prophecy at all. These worlds are held in nine trees above and nine trees below with ‘Ariadnis’ in the middle. I thought this was, conceptually, really interesting and like no setting I have come across before.
The other element I really liked was the characters. There are four ‘core’ characters, three of whom are women and one of whom is a man. I feel like I’ve been wishing for books with multiple female protagonists for a while and I’m in a bit of a run with them which brings me joy. The two main girls ‘the chosen ones’ Joomia and Aula are both fascinating characters, the former is mute, able to communicate only with a select few using her mind, while Aula has super strength and super speed. Unsurprisingly I preferred the quiet more reserved Joomia but that wasn’t because Aula wasn’t a great character, I think if someone else read the book they could easily have a completely different preference. All in all these characters are well conceived and fit well in their respective worlds.
The synopsis of this book did leave me to believe that the majority of the book would centre around some kind of contest, kind of like The Great Wave of Tamarind but in fact the book has a lot more politics and build up than a simple ‘three tasks and then the climax’ structure. Some people might find this misleading but I thought it made the whole book less predictable, there certainly are a lot of twists and turns on the way to the ending. I like a book that can surprise me and this certainly achieved that.
This is a multiple POV book, primarily switching between Joomia and Aula. I actually think this works in this setting since the theme is of division and then coming together. I thought that worked well and was written well, the two had distinct voices. I liked Josh Martin’s writing style, it’s descriptive without being wishy washy.
I enjoyed this book a lot, though I know some people really didn’t like it so be warned it may not be for everyone. I read this book in one evening I liked it so much, which hasn’t happened for me in a while so thankyou Josh Martin for pulling me out of my reading slump!
My rating: 5/5 stars!
Have you read this? Do you think it’s something that you might like to read? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @judithcmoore
Can’t wait to hear from you!
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