Serpentine

As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.

When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.

Goodreads, Amazon UK 

This book was a Christmas present and the cover was intriguing, to say the least. And then I didn’t get around to reading it for months. When I actually read it, I found it very different to the things I normally read. It’s fantasy, which isn’t unusual for me at all, but the style of the book and the plot was something very different, very new. Mostly in a good way.

The world-building was excellent. I would have loved to have known more about the magical history mentioned at the end of the book but the build up to it was very good, adding small pieces of info when needed. I wasn’t confused or staring at any massive info-dumps, which are two big pluses for world-building.

Sometimes in these kinds of stories (girl has magical secret), you wonder why they don’t tell someone about it. Yes, there is always a chance for rejection but sometimes they look like they’re building it up in their head. But Skybright’s panic over what she was turning into and her reasoning for not telling Zhen Ni, it looked sensible rather than foolish. What she was turning into was a monster from their stories and she didn’t want the most important person in her life to find out – realistic I thought.

Compared to the Courtesan’s Lover, I really liked the romance in this book. Both couples felt like they had built up the romance with attraction and spending time together before throwing around any words about love. Sometimes I have to brace myself when romance comes up in fantasy books because it can derail the plot so completely, but this book didn’t lose focus on the main plot, while still including the romance sub-plots in a good way. The romance was interspersed in between Skybright’s secret and the greater war which was going on. I would have liked more on the relationship between Skybright and Zhen Ni, but again, I think that was done well. No less importance was placed on that relationship simply because it was non-romantic.

There was one thing I really didn’t like in this book, and that was the ending. The sacrifice part of Skybright giving up those she loved instead of having to give up her actual life I liked. That was good, surprising, but good. The implication being because she was immortal she would forget Kai Shen and Zhen Ni and fall in love with Stone? That was tragic but in a worse way than Skybright actually dying would have been. For one thing, I hated Stone. Not in a villain kind of way, more of a ‘this guy/god/immortal being is so creepy, why is Skybright kissing him, can we drop him off a cliff’. If he was more the main villain, rather than having this obsession with Skybright, I think I could have handled his character a lot better.

Still, I really liked this story and would recommend it. And I think I’m going to buy the sequel when it comes out in September this year. Four stars!

 

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