It seems like the vampire fiction trend is over, and the new vogue is for Tsarist Russia-esque fantasy novels. That may just be me, as I’m coming off of a YA fantasy binge, but let me know your thoughts.
The blurb from Burning Glass is:
“Sonya was born with the rare gift to feel what those around her feel, both physically and emotionally—a gift she’s kept hidden from the empire for seventeen long years. But when a tragic accident pushes her into the spotlight, Sonya is hauled off to the palace and forced to serve the emperor as his sovereign Auraseer.
Tasked with sensing the intentions of would-be assassins, Sonya is under constant pressure to protect the emperor. But Sonya’s power is untamed and reckless, and she can’t always decipher where other people’s impulses end and her own begin. In a palace full of warring emotions and looming darkness, Sonya fears that the biggest danger to the empire may be herself.
As she struggles to wrangle her abilities, Sonya seeks refuge in her tenuous alliances with the charming-yet-volatile Emperor Valko and his idealistic younger brother, Prince Anton. But when threats of revolution pit the two brothers against each other, Sonya must choose which brother to trust—and which to betray.
Steeped in intrigue and treachery, debut author Kathryn Purdie’s stunning new fantasy trilogy captivates with heartrending romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s quest for redemption.”
Sonya is an Auraseer – that’s aura-see-er. As in she sees and reads people’s auras. I don’t know why they couldn’t just outright say that. It took me longer than you’d think( 91% of the way through the book, ahem, )to figure it out. In my head I was pronouncing it a-roar-sear. I don’t know why. Anyway…
So Sonya is an orphan. In Riaznin any auraseers belong to the Emperor, and must serve as his protector. As someone who can read auras Sonya can sense emotions, and thus identify potential assassins, as you would imagine they would be quite angry/ hateful/ dark as they are about to do the deed.
Sonya’s parents wanted her to be free so they entrusted her to a tribe of travellers called Romska, to keep her safe from the Empire; they were then murdered for disobeying the law.
Eventually Sonya was found and given to the Convent where auraseers are trained. Even amongst her peers Sonya’s powers are strange and powerful; she can sense the auras and emotions of animals and dead people. Yeah, that’s sounds delightful.
Because she was taken and hidden amongst the Romska, Sonya has never been trained to control her powers; she takes on the feelings of others as if they were her own emotions, and gets into some awful scrapes (understatement) from becoming carried away by said emotions.
After a terrible “accident” leads to Sonya becoming the oldest auraseer, Sonya must leave the convent to become Emperor Valko’s protector. The previous Sovereign Auraseer( a fancy title that comes with room, board, fancy robes and the penalty of death if you don’t spot assassins )has been executed for failing to prevent an assassination attempt which took out the Dowager Empress instead of the emperor. No pressure then.
The Crown Prince, Anton, brings Sonya to the palace, and immediately expresses doubt in her ability to do her job to protect his brother. Sonya is untrained, wild and reckless. Despite this there is a mutual attraction between them. Can Sonya prevent the emperor from being assassinated and learn to control her powers?
This was an okay novel; the concept was interesting and I liked the fictional world in which the story took place. The downside? I really didn’t like Sonya. The “accidents” which took place could have been easily avoided by her using a bit of common sense. She knows she gets carried away by the feelings of others, would it have been too much to stop and think, hmm, do I really want to do this?
I also really hated the love triangle. Anton is nice if a bit too concerned with not taking advantage of Sonya’s empathy abilities. Valko( excuse my language )is a knob. Sonya doesn’t like him, she knows she doesn’t like him. She knows he manipulates people, especially women. Does she still fall for his crap? Every. Damn. Time. It’s like Fifty Shades for teenagers with better writing and slightly less abuse.
I’m not sure if this is the end of the story or if there will be a sequel. If there is a sequel I’m torn as to whether or not to give it a chance. The romance aspect just became so tiresome, and Sonya turns herself into a complete victim, beats herself up( metaphorically )for causing so many problems, but at the same time doesn’t seem to take responsibility for her actions or change her behaviour. It’s almost as if she is just saying bad things about herself so that everyone will go “oh no, you’re fabulous, we love you”. What’s even more annoying is that they do! Anton tells her she’s brilliant. Really??? Do you know what she’s done??? Not buying it, sorry.
The kindle version is £8.99 at the time of this review and I think the hardback is £12.99 from Harper Collins.
What do you think – will you give it a try? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.