When ancient magic tests a newfound love, a dark fate beckons . . .
Magic has been banished in the land of Syhl Shallow for as long as best friends Jax and Callyn can remember. They once loved the stories of the powerful magesmiths and mythical scravers who could conjure fire or control ice, but now they’ve learned that magic only leads to danger: magic is what killed Callyn’s parents, leaving her alone to raise her younger sister. Magic never helped Jax, whose leg was crushed in an accident that his father has been punishing him for ever since. Magic won’t save either of them when the tax collector comes calling, threatening to take their homes if they can’t pay what they owe.
Meanwhile, Jax and Callyn are astonished to learn magic has returned to Syhl Shallow — in the form of a magesmith who’s now married to their queen. Now, the people of Syhl Shallow are expected to allow dangerous magic in their midst, and no one is happy about it.
When a stranger rides into town offering Jax and Callyn silver in exchange for holding secret messages for an anti-magic faction, the choice is obvious — even if it means they may be aiding in a plot to destroy their new king. It’s a risk they’re both willing to take. That is, until another visitor arrives: handsome Lord Tycho, the King’s Courier, the man who’s been tasked with discovering who’s conspiring against the throne.
Suddenly, Jax and Callyn find themselves embroiled in a world of shifting alliances, dangerous flirtations, and ancient magic . . . where even the deepest loyalties will be tested.
-Excerpt taken from Goodreads.
Check Goodreads to see the book’s ratings.
(3 / 5) This story begins about 4 years after A Curse So Dark and Lonely series ends. Jax and Callyn are doing what they can to bring money into their family’s businesses, as the collector’s have come calling. Magic was banished but now Grey has married their queen, Lia Mara and has brought magic to their kingdom.
Kemmerer has an easy flow to her writing. It’s easy to get pulled into the story. She’s great at creating emotion and keeping the story exciting. She has had characters that have real physical ailments (Jax is missing part of his leg) and I love her for showing their struggles but for showing how they work through it.
While I expected to complain about this really being book 4 to A Curse So Dark and Lonely (really? Why does it have a different series name when there are the same characters?) My bigger problem with this book was the intimacy.
Excuse me while I get on my soapbox for a bit; Kemmerer started pushing the grounds of what I feel is comfortable in YA with her last book, A Vow So Bold and Deadly But in this book, she crossed the line of where I’m comfortable (see down below in the summary). My preference of intimacy in YA coincides with what I believe teens should be experiencing in YA books; closed door scenes. I get it, a lot disagree with me but I feel that certain intimacies are pushed too early and too much for teenagers. I love it when books have healthy outlooks on intimacy but don’t give details. Closed door scenes (before the scene progresses much, the scene ends, or a “door is closed” so the reader does not experience it) still allow there to be intimacy without the details. This book is labeled 13 and up and I’m mortified by thought of 13year olds reading it.
Putting the intimacy aside, I really did enjoy this story, I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have. A lot of parents come to me with requests for their teens for books, and the one requirement I hear again and again is that they prefer minimal intimacy until their kid is older. The next request I get is minimal language (usually F words which is why I number those but nothing else). Knowing I now can’t recommend this series is heartbreaking as she has become a favorite YA author.
I’ve seen many posts about praising Kemmerer for writing ‘intimacy after trauma’ and while I commend her for this, I stand by my opinion that it should not be in books for teens. If it had the label of NA (New Adult) then I would not be on my soapbox. There would be a mention down below in the summary and that is it.
Ok I’m off my soapbox! You have the info, now you can decide what is best for you or your family!
General content summary: language, aggression and death with weapons, blood, death by fire and magic, parental death, alcoholism, child (teen) physical abuse (details), a creature attacks, physical aggression with blood and weapons, m/m relationships (kissing), kissing, eluding to a previous rape (no details, vague), miscarriage, m/f detailed intimacy, m/m detailed intimacy (2x), m/f sleep in same bed, m/m sleep in same bed, a child and woman are taken captive and mistreated, fire and death, underage drinking.
Thank you to Bloosmbury YA and NetGalley for the gifted copy!
The book releases June 7, 2022.
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