“The truth of man is that he does what he does based only on what he knows, and wha the knows is warped by experiences, convoluted by fears, and deformed by perspective.”
Cecilia, along with her mother, and two older brothers, live in Plockton, an idyllic village home to 77 Plocktonians set amongst a post-apocalyptic world. Suddenly, her village falls victim to soldiers from Vitus, a steely city with brainwashed citizens trapped by inhumane laws dictated by Senators. The soldiers slaughter the children, women, elderly, the frail, and enslave the young men. Cecilia’s older brothers save her life, screaming at her to Run as they are captured defending her. Against all odds, Cecilia survives, thus begins her quest to return the favour, and save her brothers from the claws of Vitus. Along the way, she encounters a goddess, an assassin, and hidden societies.
The very first thing that struck me about this book is Rotirolla’s descriptive prowess. In fact, I highlighted almost the entire first page and popped many heart emoji’s in my notes.
“The sun, fog, and canopy were at it again, quarrelling over who to blame for the forest’s chilly morning air. The sun accused the canopy of not letting him in to do his job, to which the canopy bristled that his leaves had plentiful gaps for the sun’s rays, arguing the lazy fog was at fault fo lingering far too long. Never one to move faster than a sleepy sloth, the fog let out an airy yawn and replied that if the golden ball of fire tried a little harder and warmed the air a little quicker, his mist could float away, and if the Green Emperor weren’t so prideful of his canopy, he wouldn’t be trapped in the first place.”
It is only fair to share with you in this review this example of masterful writing. I could explain to hell and high-water how amazing the description is, but ultimately, you need to see yourself the writing powers you are up against in this book. I bring it up because descriptions are crucial when it comes to the world building. Imagination is a powerful tool, as every reader will know, but foundations are needed before buildings are erected and society moves in. Rostirolla helps the reader achieve this effortlessly.
Another thing I wish to mention, I am a true sucker for the enemies-to-lover trope, especially when one is an assassin sent to kill their future soul mate. The connection between Cecilia and Armaladh builds in a satisfying trajectory. Armaladh slowly baring his soul to Cecilia is possibly the most enjoyable aspect of this book. He is truly my favourite character.
My singular gripe – and in this case, gripe is a strong word – would be that I would have loved an index in this book, or something where it allowed me to see how to pronounce certain words in my head, including Armaladh’s name. The uncertainty of how to pronounce multiple words relating to the story shook the world building as I struggled to recall the words for certain things.
Overall, quite possibly my favourite read of 2021 so far.