« 𝐘𝐨𝐮 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐞𝐯𝐞 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝, 𝐛𝐮𝐭 𝐢𝐟 𝐢𝐭’𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐞𝐥𝐬𝐞, 𝐢𝐭’𝐬 𝐩𝐨𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐥𝐞𝐬𝐬. 𝐋𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐟 »
- Edition : Harper Voyager
- Pages : 446 + a one-page glossary and a map
As many of you know, the story is a loose retelling of Anastasia Nikolaïevna Romanova. After years of defeats against the Japanese and the Dutch’s armies and because of the political restlessness, his father is forced to abdicate in 1917. Then, he is locked away with all his family and they will be killed several months later by Bolsheviks.
In the Cyrilian Empire, Affinites are reviled. Their varied gifts to control the world around them are unnatural—dangerous. And Anastacya Mikhailov, the crown princess, has a terrifying secret. Her deadly Affinity to blood is her curse and the reason she has lived her life hidden behind palace walls.
When Ana’s father, the emperor, is murdered, her world is shattered. Framed as his killer, Ana must flee the palace to save her life. And to clear her name, she must find her father’s murderer on her own. But the Cyrilia beyond the palace walls is far different from the one she thought she knew. Corruption rules the land, and a greater conspiracy is at work—one that threatens the very balance of her world. And there is only one person corrupt enough to help Ana get to its core: Ramson Quicktongue.
A cunning crime lord of the Cyrilian underworld, Ramson has sinister plans—though he might have met his match in Ana. Because in this story, the princess might be the most dangerous player of all.
You want me to be the monster?
I’ll be the monster.
Anastacya Mikhailov : she is an Affinite who controls blood, how badass is that ?! She is not your run-of-the-mill heroine who is all good, no, she is nuanced. I need to torture people if I want to get closer to my goal ? Very well ! But she hasn’t always been like that.
Her view on the world changes throughout the book. Younger, she thought that her Empire was fair and good, but as she is forced to flee and to roam throughout her Empire, she discovers an ugly truth : people like her are reduced to slavery and some are lured away from their homes by the promise of better conditions. And those supposed to protect the people are just as bad as the slavers. Little by little, she sees past her fear of using her power (because when she was little, she killed several people because she couldn’t control it and the man hired by his father to basically torture her, called her « my little monster ») and is trying to harness it to change her Empire.
Ramson Quicktongue or Farrald : he was a fun character. He is the bastard son of one of the most important men in the Navy and is enrolled by his father to follow his path. He became friends with an orphan boy. But one day, he received a letter from his town saying that his mother is dying. His friend tells him that the Navy has the wherewithal to save her. His father refuses because love and friendship is useless to him. Ramson decides to steal the medicine with his friend but they are caught red-handed and Jonah is killed trying to protect him. Then, he leaves and decides to cross the sea to be hired by the most powerful gang (the Order of the Lily) to take his revenge on his father. He climbs the ladder and becomes one of the most important men of the order. However, his most dangerous mission sends him to prison and this is where Ana frees him.
Ramson was a con man all right. How many times did he think about leaving her at the beginning ? How many times his con man background saved them ? Gradually, he notices that the both of them are not so different and the more time they spend together, the closer he gets to her. When he is close to dying, he thinks about her, about « the fierce jut of her chin, and the way she chewed on her lip when she was thinking. » He realises there is still something good in him and Ana makes him want to follow this path from which he strayed when he was younger.
Drowing beneath the weight and the blood of their own pasts, she still chose to reach for the light, whereas Ramson had turned to the dark.
I’ve read that some readers found the pace really slow. I don’t understand why, I thought that there was a good balance and I have not been bored a single time.
I really loved having both point of view as Ana took rasher decisions while Ramson was more scheming, he was always thinking five to ten steps ahead. Well, she does try to act like Ramson but most of the time, her rash nature gets the upper hand. I liked how both of them evolve throughout the book.
As for the slight romance between them, I’m happy that it was not a big part. However, we notice the chemistry between both characters (they are always bickering while deep down, they know that they would kill the world for each other).
I also thought that the flashbacks were really useful in understanding Ana and Ramson’s pasts. They made me care more about them as we understand their motives. They added more depth to the story.
As for the main theme of the book : slavery, well, it was well depicted. Through the novel, there are several Affinite children who were forced into slavery (May, or the girl selling pastries for instance). However, I did not find it as dark as others did.
Choices were for those with privilege and power. When you had none, all you could do was survive.
This is my review of the month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.com : https://lovelyaudiobooks.info/the-monthly-book-blogger-link-up