Some books you just vibe with, and this one was 100% my cup of tea. Flawed characters you kind of hate/love, a story that connects across centuries, just the right amount of grim, and plenty of action. Also, this is a YA that read more on the adult side of the genre, which I tend to enjoy more (though I still have the pet peeve of certain content belonging in Adult fantasy).
The prologue was one that tells an end and a beginning, and I was hooked from the second page. For Rielle, whose past we know and ending we see right from the start, I was still interested to see her journey from the girl we meet in chapter one to the one we see in the prologue. I had SO. MANY. QUESTIONS. and it took the entire book to answer them all, but in the best ways. Some things I guessed, some things you know are inevitable since we already know Rielle's fate, and some things I thought I knew but still held a sliver of doubt until confirmed.
Rielle was more of the hate side of hate/love for me. She's cocky, knowing full well she is one of the prophesied queens and basking in the attention it is getting her. I didn't like her as a person, and wouldn't want to call her a friend if I knew her in real life. And that's what is so great about her - she felt like a real person I got to know and decided was not the kind I'd keep in my circles. When a character is able to make you forget they are only that, a character in a story, it's one of those times when you have to realize the impact an author was able to make on you, even if the reaction was dislike. I look at art the same way - a piece that makes you feel so strongly for or against it has done its job; it made you feelsomething. Plus, the author writes Rielle (and Eliana, but I'll get to her) in such a way that you accept them as they are and I, at least, still felt pity for her as the inevitable consequences of her actions start to play out.
Eliana is a bit of a mystery, a character that would have been easy to suddenly have do a 180 from the bounty-hunter background we're given at the beginning to a "suddenly saw the light" heroine. Nope, she stands true to her upbringing, and there were things she did I disliked as well, but as a person she would be the one I'd want in my life. She's an unapologetic badass, looking for fights in too many of her encounters (but hey, she's got the skills to back it up), and every bit of what she does is to protect and provide for her younger brother and ill mother. She's both courageous and a coward, serving an Empire of evil to keep her loved ones safe while shutting off any feelings towards the good people she hurts by doing so. She keeps complicated emotions at bay and justifies her complacency with her situation by remembering the repercussions her family would suffer should she disobey.
Rielle and Eliana are two completely different people, their personalities jumping off the page. Legrand has done an excellent job of creating two identities uniquely their own.
I'm not going to say too much about the plot, even under a spoiler tag, as I think this deserves a read where you go in with questions. The questions were what drew me along, anticipating more answers on every page. But I enjoyed the world, the clear-cut system of rules for the elemental magic, and the stark differences shown between the time periods. There was more magic-building than world-building, even with a map and glossary, but I'm okay with it. The romance was definitely my style, more on the adult side and with a lot less whiny pining. There are way more important things going on in each of the MC's lives than if that guy is into them.
I will note that I've seen some comparisons to Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, and aside from one side character named Valentine I really don't see the similarities. This book is far better written and put together, the characters much more believable and nowhere near annoying, the romance leaves out all of the angst, and there's the *little* difference that the plots are nothing alike. So really there's just the fact that they both have angels and half-angels, and if you're telling me that no one else can write about angelic beings I'll just *insert eye-roll here*. Especially because Furyborn's angels are definitely notthe angels you know. And there's that whole controversy surrounding Clare's originality in the first place...but I'll leave off.
ARC provided by Sourcebooks and Fairyloot - many thanks!