This book wasn’t what I expected. I mean that in both a good and semi-good way, I promise.
Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for giving me a free, digital copy in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Song of Blood & Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles #1)
Author: L. Penelope
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release date: May 1, 2018
Genre: New adult, fantasy, romance
Length: 384 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (via Goodreads) “Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.
Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.
Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.
The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.”
Trigger warning: Attempted sexual assault (happens once, in the early chapters of the book)
This book was first self-published in 2015. A few years later, it was picked up by St. Martin’s Press. I can only imagine how thrilling that is! The book first pinged on my ‘book radar’ because of the cover. We see very little PoC on the cover of books, let alone fantasy books! And it looks like this book is a series–all with PoCs on the cover–so I hope St. Martin’s will continue to keep the covers for this series. They’re so gorgeous!
There are a variety of things I enjoyed immensely about this book. First off, the concept! I love the unique magical system and the world it inhabits. The world itself makes me think of the 1920s, with its automobiles, airships, and telephones. But it also has the harsh racism and prejudice, which we see the main character, Jasminda, come face-to-face with from the first chapter. Not only is Jasminda looked down upon because of the color of her skin, but also because of her Earthsong, magic passed down to her by her father. Jasminda is biracial, too, which I always love to cheer being a biracial person myself. Her mother was Lagamiri, her father Elsira, and while she is a citizen of Elsira, people are frightened of her magic, too, which plays an overall huge part of the story.
To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure what to make of this. The story didn’t capture me until I was well over 1/4 of the way through this book. Then it really picked up, and the romance really swept me off my feet, making me yearn for more. Jack was a really sweet character, and I could completely feel his heart-wrenching struggle between his love for Jasminda and the duty toward his country. Saying exactly why would be spoiler-ish, so I’ll just leave it at that. 🙂
Now there were also some confusing parts, most of it stemming from the world-building. First we have the Lagamiri’s ruler, known as the True Father, who appears to be a cruel sort of dictator. The Elsirans, on the otherhand, await the Queen to be woken from her slumber. In the midsts of this, the two countries are at odds with one another because many Lagamiris are seeking refuge in Elsira to escape the True Father. Then there are these flashbacks Jasminda faces, which I didn’t know what to think of at first. However, it does eventually all tie together in a seemingly predictable way. But that didn’t take away the joy of finishing this book.
Overall, this was an enjoyable book. I noticed that book 2 doesn’t focus on Jack and Jasminda, but rather on another character mentioned in book 1. I’m keen on continuing this series, so I’ll keep an eye out for it.