Serena is a women from Cardonia, where women are properties and sought-after by warlocks to use their magic that's in their blood. Zade is from Envadi, a different country where things are done differently than in Cardonia and so is considered barbaric by the Cardonians. Both of them goes through a cultural shock and learns to live with each other. While they are trying to make Cardonia more tolerant towards women and the tarnished, those that want to keep the status quo are out to kill them.
I love the worldbuilding and that is one of the main reason why this book is so compelling to me. The author spins such a neat web of the warlock, women, Envadi, and tarnished people. How everything fits in and relate is really well done, especially the tension between all the groups. I love the magic, the different kinds of spells, and pretty dresses in the book.
The romance between the main characters is lacking. I keep thinking Zade is still thinking about his previous fiancée and any kindness or care shown to Serena are out of duty and politeness. That is, until he says he is not thinking about his ex anymore at the very end of the book. That makes Serena's love/attraction towards him seem one-sided.
The ending does not tie up loose ends. I don't know who are the "bad guys" and their reason/side of story. That made the ending unsatisfying. I really want to know who will marry Cynthia and Bethany, Serena's two sisters, since Cynthia's magic is supposed to be even more potent and sought-after than Serena's. What about the spell that's put on Bethany? Does that get reversed or dissolved when the spell caster dies? Why can't women use the magic that's so potent in their blood? Does Envadi women do magic?
This is an amazing, compelling read set in a fantasy world. I spent a whole day doing nothing except reading this book and finished it in one sitting. When I did take a break, the story was all I could think about. This book encourages you to take risks to make a better world for yourself, to not take the easy way out, but strive towards a future that you can live as yourself. I highly recommend this book for fans of fantasy and books set in an amazing world that sucks you right into it.
*Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review*
I like the sequel, Butterflies, better than its predecessor, The Caldwell Ghost. Robert and Simon gets more page time and we know more about their personalities in this book.
Robert is still naive in the ways of the world, but he's naturally curious and that suits his job as a journalist well. He is also very direct and assertive in communicating his feelings and dislikes. In comparison, Simon is the one who's more introvert. Simon's disposition comes from years of experience dealing with ghosts and people's motives in raising ghosts. He has seen things that made him grow older and mature into who he is. I really enjoy the couple's interactions, from letters to blow jobs, in this book.
The mystery plot is chilling with a creepy imagery of butterflies killing people. The description are vivid and I love it. Two people died with mysterious and copious amounts of butterflies around them and in their throats. Simon is called in to investigate and Robert meets him on in assignment from the newspaper. Their partnership on this case is clear and well portrayed.
Overall, this is a great story with a well developed plot and interesting characters. I would recommend reading The Caldwell Ghost to be more acquainted with the characters since Butterflies starts right after The Caldwell Ghost ends and it would satisfy a curiosity of how these two characters meet. However, it's not necessary to do so in order to enjoy the second book. Mystery fans should definitely give this story a try.
I've also reviewed the first book in this series, The Caldwell Ghost, here: