Book Review: Obsidian (ARC)

Expected publication: January 25th 2022 

Author: Sarah J. Daley

Shade Nox is a fiend, a rogue, and a wanted murderer, though her only true crime is that she chooses to dress like a man. Proud and defiant, she wears her tattoos openly as any bloodwizard would, and carries obsidian blades at her hips. Those who laughingly call her a witch to her face soon learn an unfortunate lesson: Shade Nox might be an abomination, but she wields her blades with devastating precision, gleefully shedding blood for elemental magic that matches any man’s.

Shade scratches out a dangerous living in the broken Wastes, but now that they are growing more unstable and dangerous, Shade and her people need their own Veil to protect them. She vows to raise one—a feat not accomplished in over a hundred years. But the Veils are controlled by the Brotherhood, who consider them sacred creations. They would sooner see all the Veils collapse into dust than allow a witch to raise one.

With the help of her friends and allies, and her own indomitable will, Shade stays one step ahead of her enemies. Her zeal is only tempered when she learns the true sacrifice required to raise a Veil—a secret even the centuries-old Brotherhood has forgotten. It is too high a price to pay. Nevertheless, she must pay it, or she will lose everything and everyone she loves…

Obsidian is a standalone fantasy novel that immediately drew me in with its gorgeous and intriguing cover. The story is set in the aftermath of a magical war where humans are now trying to survive under the rule of an Imperial overlord, the Brotherhood of bloodwizards, and the Capomagi in the island kingdom of Malavita. Shade Nox is a magic user, however, as women typically cannot access magic, especially her type of magic, she sometimes hides herself as a man. Shade lives in an area called the Wastes, which is growing more unstable and dangerous. In order to protect those around her, she wants to find a magic solution, but it is easier said than done.

As a main character, Shade was very interesting as she experienced many moments of strength and many of vulnerability. She was both a likable and an unlikable character, so I am not set in my feelings for her. Unfortunately, she leaned more towards unlikable as there were many instances of her coming across as arrogant instead of strong-willed, which could come down to context, wording choices, or just my perception. I think more growth from her character would have helped this as it did not seem to be explored as in depth as I would have liked.

The Brotherhood was an interesting group as they were widespread across the world. To use the magic they would access it by blood magic using gem knives with some using rubies and others, like our main character, use obsidian. Each gem represents the strength of the user’s magic. As magic users, these wounds would heal by themselves using special tattoos in order to be cut again. The entire concept was very interesting as the gem element added a new angle to the idea of blood magic use. As for the Brotherhood, I wanted a little more exploration into their history and how it relates from their creation to their current place in the story. The gem blades were also a cool concept that I wished was explored more as I want to learn everything, such as, their origins and how they are made.

Along Shade’s journey, the readers meet Captain Raiden Mad, an Imperial Emissary, and Dante Safire, the high prince, who all have their own perspectives in the novel. Additional characters that are introduced are Matteo, Angelo, Cyril, Manoli, and Petra. While these characters together were enjoyable, I wanted a little more from them as many of their motivations and backstories were told rather than shown. I am a complete fan of romances of stories, but, unfortunately, it fell flat for me this time. It came across as almost coming out of nowhere, so I needed more development to connect more to this storyline. The story itself is fairly faced paced and very interesting. I think it was expanded into a duology, it might have given more time to develop some parts further, but it still was a quick read. As this is set-up as a standalone, there is no cliffhanger ending, but I think there is a foundation for this to be expanded into a series within the same universe and I would gladly give it a try!

**I give a special thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Angry Robot, for the opportunity to read this entertaining novel. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.**

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