I was sent this book as an advance copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.
Release date: January 10th
I’ve been following Elise Kova’s work since this summer, when I found the Air Awakens series, and I loved those books to pieces. When I found out she was coming out with a new high fantasy series I couldn’t wait to put my hands on it, and my curiosity has been fed throughout these past few months because of all the interactive stuff Kova does for her followers. If you don’t know about it, she has a Tower Guard group on facebook (born to promote and interact with readers of Air Awakens) and she created the Guild Games to promote The Alchemists of Loom, the first book in the Loom Saga.
The world building in this book is much more complex than in Air Awakens, and to me that’s a plus point. Despite its complexity, I was never confused about it, and the information was given gradually throughout the book (yay for no info-dump).
The world is also very unique: it’s a mix of steampunk+fantasy+magic and yes, it’s as glorious as it sounds.
There are two races in this world: the Fenthri and the Dragons.
Fenthri reside in Loom and are pretty much human-shaped, except they have grey skin and they age a little bit differently than us (they’re adults around 15 I believe).
Dragons live in Nova are definitely not what you would think. They’re also mostly human-shaped, except they have claws and fangs and their skin is colorful (like, blue or red/orange) and they age much more slowly than Fenthri. And, well, they’re ruthless like the dragons we all think about when we hear the word. Also, they have magic. I won’t say much about the magic system because I think it’s better to find out more about it while reading this, just know that everything is really, really cool.
The plot was never slow and it went hand in hand with the character development; in fact I would say that this first book is pretty much equally plot- and character-driven.
Something else I loved is the multiple-PoV format (3rd person): Arianna, Cvareh, Florence and Leona have very different perspectives, backgrounds and motives. Their voices are so distinct that you can never forget whose PoV you’re reading, and their characterization is excellent.
Arianna is a protagonist with a troubled past, like many other heroines of YA literature. And yet she feels completely new and original. She’s not a girl, she’s a woman who knows what she can do and who has a mission she is willing to see accomplished no matter what.
a literal cinnamon roll Arianna’s pupil and friend and their relationship was one of the best things of this book. I love books that portray a healthy female friendship and I believe it was done very well here.
She’d [Arianna] spent most of her life without the girl. But now she couldn’t imagine a world that didn’t have her in it, and she would fight tooth and nail to keep her there.*
Cvareh is a Dragon and my new bookish boyfriend. I can say I loved him from page 1 (well, he wasn’t on page 1, but you get what I mean), he’s such an interesting character and I hate that I don’t want to give too much away in this review because I need to talk about him. I’ll be generic and say that one of the best things about him (BUT THERE ARE SO MANY) is how he doesn’t perfectly fit the gender stereotypes that we are all fed since birth AND THAT’S SO GREAT AND REFRESHING.
He also brings important messages like this one:
You judge me for the actions of my entire race. You see me as a Dragon before you see me as a man. You ignore my good will and attempts at peace, only looking for banners of war between my words. And when you find none, you invent them, so that I better fit your expectations.*
I love his relationship with both Ari and Flo. They are from different worlds so they’re bound to have some differences and their first moments together are not without issues, but you can’t expect it to be otherwise.
There is also romance in this book, although it’s not the driving element. But it is there and it’s hot. So hot.
*All quotes come from an early copy and might be slightly different in the finished, published edition.
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