Author: Makiia Lucier
Narrator: Jonathan Miles
Audiobook Length: 9 hours 48 minutes
The past never forgets…
Three years ago, Lord Cassia disappeared in the midst of war, on a mission entrusted to him by the king. Since then, a devastating plague has swept the land, leaving countless dead and the kingdom forever altered.
Having survived a rotting prison cell and a merciless illness, Cas, now 18, wants only to return to his home in the mountains and forget past horrors. But home is not what he remembers. His castle has become a refuge for the royal court. And they have brought their enemies with them.
When an assassin targets those closest to the queen, Cas is drawn into a search for a killer… one that leads him to form an unexpected bond with a brilliant young historian named Lena. Cas and Lena soon realize that who is behind the attacks is far less important than why. They must look to the past, following the trail of a terrible secret – one that could threaten the kingdom’s newfound peace and plunge it back into war.
Ever since I received Year of the Reaper in my FairyLoot box, I have been anxious to read it. Time to dedicate to reading the hardcover version, unfortunately, got away from me for now, so I decided to go with the audiobook version. Luckily, this turned out to be a fantastic novel, so I cannot wait to re-visit it to try out my printed copy. Although there are multiple covers available for this novel, all of them are visually appealing and were one of the reasons I was intrigued to begin reading. The story takes place in the aftermath of a plague and follows Cas after he has escaped a Brisan prison to his home in Oliveras. As I read many stories with a female protagonist, it was an interesting change to read about a male one. While it did not affect my enjoyment of the story, it was still an enjoyable choice on the author’s part. When a mysterious assassin tries to kill Queen Jehan, Cas begins his attempt at solving the mystery.
He is aided in his quest by Lena, an apprentice historian who also is related to the King Rayan. The two of them slowly connect to form a friendship with a natural progression that matches his and Lena’s personalities. Since I am a huge fan of romances, there are times where I wish there were more scenes for this part of the story and there were others where I liked that was a secondary storyline in the background. Ventillas, Cas’s brother, also has a prominent presence in the story. The two brothers have a fun relationship where they are navigating coming back together after their extended time apart. Cas can see ghosts and also is dealing with PTSD, which were well incorporated in the story. His ability to see ghosts was explored a little, but I would have loved a lot more.
The world-building for the tension between the two kingdoms was well-done as it provided a nice backdrop to the main mystery. This story is based off Princess Joan of England the Black Death plague of the 14th century. While historical events helped shape the story, there are pieces of it that is reminiscent for the current pandemic times. Even though it was written before the pandemic, it is interesting to see some parallels to the current world. The effects from the plague are well done in this story, as it is an ever-present obstacle as the world tries to right itself in a rocky political climate. The story itself was a surprising read as I do not feel the title or the blurb accurately set up my expectations as the content was different. The blurb does day that Cas is after the “why” more than the “who,” so I knew, at least, the mystery would be the main plot along with Cas trying to adjust to his new life.
Overall, this book is not action-packed, but there is still some in the story. There are multiple pieces as there is a developing romance, political tension, family struggles, PTSD, and the mystery that all weave together to create an intriguing novel. As there are subparts, the pacing of the story does vary throughout depending on the focus for a certain scene. As there are clues along the way, most of the plot twists were not a surprise, but they were still enjoyable. As a standalone, I was surprised at how complete the novel felt even though there was a lot of information included. Based off the ending, I greatly wish that there was an epilogue, but maybe the author is leaving the door open for a future spin-off, sequel, companion, or other way to given an update on the characters. As this is my first novel by the author, this story was a great introduction and I cannot wait to read more!