Hi friends! So I know it’s been a while. I’ve seriously missed reading everyone’s posts and interacting with y’all. I can’t wait for summer to come so I can properly get back into book blogging but until then, I’ll probably only post occasionally. But today, we’re here to celebrate thee release of one of the best books of 2019. No joke.
Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, dreaming of an unremarkable life. But when her beloved father is found dead, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of a surprisingly unstable kingdom. What’s more, Hesina believes that her father was murdered—and that the killer is someone close to her.
Hesina’s court is packed full of dissemblers and deceivers eager to use the king’s death for political gain, each as plausibly guilty as the next. Her advisers would like her to blame the neighboring kingdom of Kendi’a, whose ruler has been mustering for war. Determined to find her father’s actual killer, Hesina does something desperate: she enlists the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by
death, since magic was outlawed centuries ago.
Using the information provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of Yan at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?
First off, can we just take a moment to appreciate that gorgeous cover?????????
And yes, I know that I shout to the rooftops of Mount Olympus how beautiful that cover is all the time but I can’t help it. Art is art. Going off of that statement, Joan is an absolute master at writing. This may only be her debut novel but it’s refreshing. It’s complex without being overly complicated. It’s shocking without resorting to hollow plot twists. It’s emotional and cultural and beautiful in ways that YA hasn’t seen in years*.
*bold statement I know. Maybe that’s not entirely true BUT IT REALLY IS AMAZING
I can’t speak on the representation personally, but I know that this IS OWNVOICES!!! I loved how seamlessly Chinese culture was weaved into the story, it added a layer that makes this book wholly unique. Also, her writing is so simple yet so poetic??? I could imagine every scene with ease, yet my eyes ate up the words almost faster than my brain could process.
And and and the worldbuilding was so mind-blowingly fantastic, like I was never lost or confused as to the rules of the world? But it was still extremely well developed. An excellent example of how truly creative and complex this world is actually the political drama and legal system. It is so rare to see a YA book, let alone a fantasy, rely so heavily on an interesting legal system that determines many, if not most, of the events in this book. So that was amazing!!!
And the character depth, the character growth, the character relationships. I’m not going to go into detail because spoilers but this was an incredible cast of characters. Each played their own role in the story (or two, or three) yet they were all so distinct from one another. And that’s all I’m going to say on characters because I’d love it if you discovered them for yourself!
It was incredible. I was on the edge of my seat nearly the entire book, because the stakes just kept rising. Part of what made the tension so well-executed (besides Joan’s amazing writing!!!) is, again, the rules and political drama. Secrets were thrown around, plots were hatched, I literally didn’t know who to trust when for what reason*. However, the big twists are really at the end of the book, so there is some build-up to get there.
*that sentence sounded like a game of Clue
That’s really all I want to say on this book! I didn’t want to dive too deep because this truly is an amazing book to go into without too many expectations. I also want to thank Joan for giving me the privilege to be a part of Hesina’s Imperial Court, as well as the publisher for providing an e-ARC in exchange for my honest thoughts! Tell me: are you excited for this???