Wednesday is dwindling, but here’s another review!
Thank you NetGalley and Hot Tree Publishing for granting me this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
Rebellion brews inside Milenda’s heart as the date for the Trials approaches. As the heiress to the throne of Natale, she is forced to choose a consort from the survivors of the grueling quest across the desert.
Milenda’s heart belongs to Jaali and wants no part in the ancient and cruel ritual, but the Elders—the true rulers of Natale—will not back down.
Jaali was brought from the far North as a child slave. His only chance to be with the woman he loves is to volunteer for the Trials, no matter how dangerous or how much Milenda objects.
Together they begin their journey of discovery and rebellion against the Elders. But will their love be enough or will they lose everything they’ve fought for?
I requested this book initially because of the beautiful simplistic cover, the promising premise, and the diversity of the characters. I read a lot of high fantasy, but I do not read too many set outside of European-esque worlds. It’s something I working harder towards.
My thoughts in the end are conflicted. On the one hand, this was a brilliantly conceived world with visual imagery that sets the reader solidly into the world of Natale. The prose really is wonderful and manages to captivate.
When it comes to plot and characters, however, the story fails to reach its full potential. There is a lot of great substance to work with and the romance at its core between Milenda and Jaali is easy to root for, but the romance takes too much of the focus and for it, these characters suffer as individuals and the plot remains stagnant. It’s a shame too because political intrigue and issues of race are bubbling on the surface to add depth to the story. They just never come across as well as they can.
Perhaps the biggest problem is that Milenda never feels like the main character when she should. The story promises to be about her trying to make her own choice, but she does little to see it come to fruition, mostly just pining after Jaali and allowing others to tell her there’s no point in fighting.
Of course, I don’t want to be too hard on this story. It held a lot of potential, and Natalina does provide an entertaining story for people looking for romance heavy plots. I was just hoping for a bit more.
The world building is exquisite, but the plot fails to meet the potential that is promised in the premise.
May inspiration flow like ink upon your quill,