3.9/5 stars for this YA paranormal fantasy standalone (no romance) which was written in first person narrative in one point of view.
Within the first few pages there are a lot of vocabulary terms I’m unfamiliar with: censer, thurible, tracery, lichgate… is this world building or do I need to find a dictionary? Otherwise in the first chapter there were a lot of upper case pronouns that I need to learn more about. It was a bit overwhelming. Who is The Lady? What is The Sight? What are Shades and The Sorrow? Then all the levels of Orders are a bit confusing.
Second chapter… Then we get words like misericordes, fumatorium, clerestory, consecrated…
And then in another sentence all 3 of these are bunched together- pious, cloister, quellingly. These high level terms aren’t a problem independently, but when paired together so close to one another it’s quite a mouthful and slows down the pace to determine what is being said.
Anyways… Artemesia has a rare gift associated with feeling certain spirits. In the beginning I was pretty confused but it seems as if she’s being tested for her abilities for the next path in her future. For some reason she’s lying and acting as if she can’t sense the deaths of souls who have passed on.
How was she possessed as a child and why? Why can Artemesia resist this man’s powerful relic?
A different revenant possesses her body during a massive battle and they can speak to each other through their minds. I don’t like that the revenant seems to be able to predict the future. He’s fighting against Artemesia’s control yet also helping her. It’s a little confusing. Basically the soul wants full claim to her body but why? And she is using all her strength to keep it contained to save the lives of the nuns in her convent from the soldiers. But I’m still unsure on the ‘why.’ Why are the soldiers possessed? Why do they capture souls into relics? Why and how do relics have different abilities? Do all people have this type of power or just nuns? Side note- Why doesn’t Artemesia want to leave the convent?
I’m not a huge fan of the revenant’s voice. He’s whiney and bitchy and sarcastic but just in a mean and dry way.
It’s nice to have a character in a fantasy novel with mental health difficulties like social anxiety.
At the halfway point I’m a little bored. Yes, I’m curious to learn what certain things mean like “Old Magic” and if Artemesia will always be joined with this soul, but that’s about all I’m wondering. She still doesn’t have a specific goal. Things are happening to her on this interesting voyage and she’s reacting, her reputation turning saintly, but what is she after? Why? What is her overall purpose? Why? That is lacking so I’m struggling a little. Yet, because I love the prose of this author, I just purchased “Sorcery of Thorns,” and plan to read it next which will give me three books in a row by Margaret Rogerson. She writes many fast paced action scenes and does it well. Things got more interesting when the Seven Revenants are introduced. Yet when her roommate asks Artemesia what she’s up to & that she wants to help, again I wonder the same. What is she trying to accomplish? So I’m hoping it’ll be explained in the next chapter.
So they’re trying to stop Leander. But from what? They don’t have proof and there’s been contradictory comments on who and what he’s controlling
Then when the cool scene of a strong old magic spirit possesses someone… again Artmesia’s only goal is to survive. People are after her but she’s not going towards a desire of any kind other than staying alive.
I wish halfway through she would’ve given a nickname to the revenant. It’s annoying reading “the revenant said” a hundred times and makes the writing feel dry. I also can’t connect to their bond if he doesn’t have a name.
So when I had 50ish pages left I kept tracking how many were left to eagerly reach the end to be done. Overall it was okay but I liked the Enchanted Raven book much better. It has intense world building but because it get so complicated I was often confused, maybe due to my lack of understanding of religious cultures in general. The vibes of spirits and the dead is right up my alley but sometimes the plot felt lost and went sidetracked. I’m not sure how I felt about the epilogue since one sentence gave an opening for more in this story but I don’t think I’d be on board with reading a sequel. I’m so glad Artemesia made a friend but overall I wanted more feeling.
Some discussion questions were cool:
“Discuss a time in your life when a hardship prepared you for a more difficult situation later.”
“Have you ever experienced a friendship and what you had to challenge your thoughts about who the other person was?”
“Do you believe that in our own society we place too much trust in our leaders?”
“What role do believe religion plays in society’s interpretation of events and writing of history?”