This stunning new book by the amazing Amber Argyle left me breathless. I couldn't put it down until I'd devoured every delicious word! I love fairies and thought the magical and real worlds of the story were blended perfectly. I loved seeing Ilyenna's struggle to save her people and still maintain her own dignity. And Rone, I just adore him! Argyle is a genius at making her characters real and three-dimensional. I kept feeling like Ilennya and Rone would just step off the page at any moment.
This books is a bit darker than Witch Song and Witch Born. The tale deals with the gritty reality of women's lack of real rights and the abuses they suffer at the hands of men intent on showing their superiority through force. No punches are pulled and some parts are very hard to read since they wrench at your heart. However, Argyle handles it very tastefully and focuses more on the emotions of the characters than the gore. Also, the realm of this story is very brutal and has been thrown into wide chaos. It is definitely not a fluffy, fun little fairy story. But the imagery drew me in so that I couldn't escape even when thinks looked grim. However, it definitely left me wandering how things could possibly work out with all the disasters happening around the main protagonist, Ilyenna.
Ilyenna, a young clanmistress, is forced into dire situations in order to protect those she loves, many times. We follow her struggle to maintain her humanity even as some around her willingly give up their own for the sake of power. The relationships she experiences with others are real and not all nice. She is hated, loved, scorned, mistreated, and respected. Her pride and kindness carry us through the darkness of the story, even when it seems there is no possible way out of the precarious situations in which she finds herself trapped. She makes decisions and we see the consequences of those decisions, good and bad, play out over the course of the story.
In the end, Ilyenna must face her final choice: sacrifice herself, or her people. The choice and its consequences will surprise you. That is all I will say on that matter.
Quick note regarding the "sex" scene: It is very mild. The characters kiss, then it fades out. It is referred back to a couple times, but with no details. I thought it was well written and I like how the characters have to deal with the aftermath of that moment. It isn't glossed over, nor is it painted in a rosy light, or given unnecessary attention. It happens and changes life for those involve--in very real ways. If you are comfortable letting your kids read Twilight, or Hunger Games, this books has less sex references and violence than those titles.