Author: Tracy Banghart
Narrator: Christie Moreau
Audiobook Length: 11 hours 37 minutes
Furyborn meets A Curse So Dark and Lonely in this courtly feminist fantasy from Grace and Fury author Tracy Banghart.
Annalise may be cousin to the prince, but her past isn’t what she claims, and she possesses a magic so powerful it takes all her strength to control it. Evra is a country girl, and has watched as each friend and family member came into their own magic, while hers remains dormant. But everything changes after Annalise loses control of herself and Evra begins experiencing the debilitating visions of a once-in-a-generation clairvoyant meant to serve the crown.Thrown together at court, Evra and Annalise find that they have the same goal: to protect their kingdom from the powerful men who are slowly destroying it. But neither is quick to trust the other — Evra’s visions suggest a threat to royal rule, and Annalise worries that her darkest secrets will be revealed. Their magic at odds, the young women circle each other, until the truth must come out.
Since I listened to the audiobook for A Season of Sinister Dreams, I will say that I would recommend reading rather than listening to this novel. While Christie Moreau does an excellent job with the material, it was a disservice to the novel to only have one narrator and not two. The novel is told through the perspectives of two main characters, Annalise and Evra. Although the chapters are labeled with the character’s perspective, I tended to forget which one the chapter was focusing on and the two blended together with nothing distinct to separate their voices. (This did not affect my rating, but just something to note for those considering listening to the audiobook.)
The first perspective and main character is Annalise, in her early 20s. She is the grandniece of King Alder of Tyne and the cousin to Prince Kendrick, the heir to the throne. She has many secrets including her type of magic that she tries to keep hidden. These secrets slowly come out over time as the story moves forward. As the King nears death and Kendrick disappearing, the King looks to Annalise to be the new heir. However, their policies do not align and create a lot of tension. The second perspective and other main character is Evra a 17-year-old farmer from the town of Winhaven. After having some visions about dangers for the kingdom, she discovers that she is a Clearsee, which appear once a generation if there are great dangers on the horizon. Their two stories converge when Evra goes to court to inform the king of her visions. This story is interesting as each character is in the dark about the other character yet the reader knows more as each of their inner thoughts are presented.
There were positives and negatives for each character, so, for me, it was impossible to prefer one perspective over the other. Evra is a loyal character that loves her family and kingdom. I loved her interactions with her best friend, Tamsin. Evra is not a perfect character, but she tries her best to make the right choices that will be best for the kingdom. Her journey was interesting as she tries to unravel her visions and explore her newfound power. Annalise was also an interesting character where accidents happened around her that were beyond her control and now she has to deal with the consequences. She is not perfect both as she has her own morals and agenda and is out for revenge. As she has her own magic, she works to try to manipulate it to her advantage while achieving her goals in the complex world of the court.
While I loved the concept of this novel, I wish that there were more to the world-building aspect. There is a lot of information about Tyne that the reader is expected to accept without a lot of detail or exploration to actually connect to this kingdom. The plot and characters needed a little more build-up for me as I could not fully connect with any of it no matter how hard I tried. The pacing of this story is slow for the first two thirds or so of the book and then there are different twists and reveals towards the end. While I found them very interesting, I just wanted a little more build-up so I could connect with it. I enjoyed the romances in this novel as a background story, which turned the focus to the political intrigue and magic. Again, I wish there was more build up here as it had a lot of potential, but it just felt a little lacking. Overall, this story at a lot of interesting elements that kept me invested in finding out how it would end; however, the execution, for me, did not quite live up to its potential.