In this atmospheric YA fantasy that is Wicked Saints meets There Will Come a Darkness, four teens are drawn into a high-stakes heist in the perilous tomb of an ancient shapeshifter king.
Long ago, shapeshifting monsters ruled the Commonwealth using blasphemous magic that fed on the souls of their subjects. Now, hundreds of years later, a new tomb has been uncovered, and despite the legends that disturbing a shapeshifter’s final resting place will wake them once again, the Warlord is determined to dig it up.
But it isn’t just the Warlord who means to brave the traps and pitfalls guarding the crypt.
A healer obsessed with tracking down the man who murdered her twin brother.
A runaway member of the Warlord’s Devoted order, haunted by his sister’s ghost.
A snotty archaeologist bent on finding the cure to his magical wasting disease.
A girl desperate to escape the cloistered life she didn’t choose.
All four are out to steal the same cursed sword rumored to be at the very bottom of the tomb. But of course, some treasures should never see the light of day, and some secrets are best left buried…
I read a title from this author’s backlist a few years ago and was excited to see she’s releasing a new series. The fact that it’s a heist story made it even more appealing.
Talk about lack of trust. Each of these characters has valid reasons for not placing theirs in just anyone after being betrayed in various ways. They’ve also suffered incredible losses – Anwei her parents and twin brother, Knox his sister and best friend, Lia her family when she was ripped away from them, and Mateo his parents and possibly his life if he doesn’t find a cure for the wasting disease. I liked each of these characters and quickly grew to care about them. Mateo also injected some humor into his scenes that I especially enjoyed. Anwei and Knox have been partners in crime – literally – for a year, and before long all four of their lives become entwined. Stories that bring together a group of misfits are among my favorites, and this one also offered a couple of sly, crafty supporting characters who add to the plot.
Romance wise I was skeptical when it became evident these four would be paired off into relationships, but both are vastly different. Two of them have harbored slow burn feelings for quite a while, but the other two are in a quasi-kind of fake courtship that results in some light-hearted, comedic moments. They each work well within the scope of the story.
World-building is a big thing for me and this being a fantasy, it’s incredibly important to the plot. It’s clear the author developed a complex world with some original elements, but I never felt like I had a good grasp on it. Looking at other reviews, this wasn’t mentioned so it could have just been me being distracted at the wrong times. The pacing is a bit slow for my taste, but like a carrot on a stick, hints were dangled throughout to keep me going. I admit to being thunderstruck over the twists at the end – a perfect setup for the sequel.
With hints of Indiana Jones, a dangerous heist, and easy to love characters, this novel is sure to appeal to fantasy fans. I’ll be watching for the sequel.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.