Author: Zoraida Cordova
Release Date: April 28th 2020
Genre: Young Adult | Fantasy
Goodreads Rating: 4.07 (of 189 ratings)
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I am Renata Convida.
I have lived a hundred stolen lives.
Now I live my own.
Renata Convida was only a child when she was kidnapped by the King’s Justice and brought to the luxurious palace of Andalucia. As a Robari, the rarest and most feared of the magical Moria, Renata’s ability to steal memories from royal enemies enabled the King’s Wrath, a siege that resulted in the deaths of thousands of her own people.
Now Renata is one of the Whispers, rebel spies working against the crown and helping the remaining Moria escape the kingdom bent on their destruction. The Whispers may have rescued Renata from the palace years ago, but she cannot escape their mistrust and hatred–or the overpowering memories of the hundreds of souls she turned “hollow” during her time in the palace.
When Dez, the commander of her unit, is taken captive by the notorious Sangrado Prince, Renata will do anything to save the boy whose love makes her place among the Whispers bearable. But a disastrous rescue attempt means Renata must return to the palace under cover and complete Dez’s top secret mission. Can Renata convince her former captors that she remains loyal, even as she burns for vengeance against the brutal, enigmatic prince? Her life and the fate of the Moria depend on it.
But returning to the palace stirs childhood memories long locked away. As Renata grows more deeply embedded in the politics of the royal court, she uncovers a secret in her past that could change the entire fate of the kingdom–and end the war that has cost her everything.
Disclaimer: I received this ARC courtesy of Disney-Hyperion from Yallfest 2019. I am grateful for the opportunity to review an ARC for my readers, but this will not influence my final rating. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and based solely on the book.
According to my Goodreads page, I’ve been excited for this book for 2 years now – the moment that I heard about it, I had to have it. The concept is incredible, and I have to say that Cordova certainly delivered on an immersive world where magic comes to life. There might have a few bumps in the road, but you certainly will feel the power and fantasy in this book.
This story follows Ren, who is part of a rebel faction in a tyrannical kingdom and even considered a bit of an outcast in that with her dark and dangerous powers. When her love and best friend is captured, it catapults into the palace life where intrigue and danger is behind every door. Cordova sets us on a plot of constant action, never breaking a fast pace that is constantly filled with drama and twists and turns. Although it’s almost 400 pages, it’s 300+ pages of packed content.
I think one of my biggest issues with the book is that it felt a little too formulaic at times. For me, it tended to fall into a lot of the classic fantasy tropes, allowing me to pick up on most of the big twists and turns. Instead of being big surprises, I was underwhelmed and a bit disappointed, since I was able to call it so early on. While I think others will definitely enjoy it, I just felt a bit tired after the first 100 pages, since I lost some of the initial excitement – since it really did open with a punch.
With the opening, I also thought it was missing a little something. I did love how Cordova did drop us into some action packed scenes, filled with mystery, intrigue, and drama. However, I think that I just needed a little more time to acclimate to it. I felt like I needed a bit more time with the characters and world to fully feel and connect with it before some of the things happened – for example, I definitely felt this with Dez and Ren. While I, of course, felt and rooted for them, I just wanted more time to connect with them before really big things happened.
Ren is definitely a super strong and powerful main character. You will easily root for her, and she’s a powerhouse heroine. This is her story of regaining who she is and her strength – and, you know, all the other magic stuff. There is definitely a lot of female empowerment from her, which I loved. She is flawed – but I think that’s what makes her so intriguing to read about.
The other characters rounded out the story pretty nicely. You never know who to really trust, which made it intriguing to read about. I will say that some of did seem to fall into the classic fantasy cliches to me, and there wasn’t really any that really stood out to me as much as I wanted.
Cordova’s writing was quite immersive as well. It felt like an enchanting, dark world that brought an interesting atmosphere to the story. I definitely found it to be such a great addition to the story, and it really brought a fast-paced and somber tone to the story that was just what this fantasy novel needed.
Overall, this had some great parts for me, but it had a few bumps in the road. I enjoyed the world that Cordova created, but I felt the story fell a little too much into a fantasy formula for me to really enjoy it to its fullest. I definitely think there are some enticing parts that you will enjoy, but it just needed a bit more oomph for me.
rating: Cinderella because there was some bumps in this carriage ride
representation: Latinx (different world but it’s Latinx inspired), gay side character
content warnings: death, murder, gore, death of parents & loved ones
What do you think? Let’s discuss in the comments below!