Posted in book reviews

A River of Royal Blood – Amanda Joy

An enthralling debut perfect for fans of Children of Blood and Bone set in a North African-inspired fantasy world where two sisters must fight to the death to win the crown.

Sixteen-year-old Eva is a princess, born with the magick of marrow and blood–a dark and terrible magick that hasn’t been seen for generations in the vibrant but fractured country of Myre. Its last known practitioner was Queen Raina, who toppled the native khimaer royalty and massacred thousands, including her own sister, eight generations ago, thus beginning the Rival Heir tradition. Living in Raina’s long and dark shadow, Eva must now face her older sister, Isa, in a battle to the death if she hopes to ascend to the Ivory Throne–because in the Queendom of Myre only the strongest, most ruthless rulers survive.

When Eva is attacked by an assassin just weeks before the battle with her sister, she discovers there is more to the attempt on her life than meets the eye–and it isn’t just her sister who wants to see her dead. As tensions escalate, Eva is forced to turn to a fey instructor of mythic proportions and a mysterious and handsome khimaer prince for help in growing her magick into something to fear. Because despite the love she still has for her sister, Eva will have to choose: Isa’s death or her own.

A River of Royal Blood is an enthralling debut set in a lush North African inspired fantasy world that subtly but powerfully challenges our notions of power, history, and identity.

A River of Royal Blood is a fabulous and exciting read. The premise reminded me of Three Dark Crowns, a novel I was so excited to read because of the premise, but was disappointed by. So, picking up A River of Royal Blood, I hoped it would do more for me with it’s similar premise than Three Dark Crowns did…and it did. I read it all in a few short hours of receiving it. The writing immediately captured me, and the characters, and the plot, kept me enthralled.

This book had great world building, with the information / backstory (which led to the books climax) slowly being weaved throughout the book, in the form of being told as a story by Eva’s tutor, Baccha. I admit, I did get confused at times with all the different places, etc. But the mythology and stories behind how all these places came to be, were well thought out, and interesting.

The magic system was also great, and I liked that we got to see Eva go on her journey of learning how to use it and be comfortable with herself. I feel like the book nicely weighed up her internal struggles surrounding her identity and her magick.

The wide range of characters was great. In particular, I loved Baccha, and I low-key ship Eva and him together…Sorry Aketo, you are great too…

I loved the way this book held adventure, action, and mystery. It all comes together at the end in a brilliant, shocking way (I feel silly for not seeing it coming. I mean, I had a slight suspicion which was along the lines of what happened, but I didn’t guess it all).

My one ‘issue’ with this book would be that I wish we got to see more of the Queen and Isadore, and flesh out their characters more. For a lot of the book, they felt like sort of stock-holder antagonists. We did have some moments with the Queen/Eva, and Eva/Isadore, that touched upon the deep complexities of their relationship, but they felt too fleeting. This didn’t impact my enjoyment of the book much, as I still felt all of Eva’s pain at their betrayal and abandonment, but I think the book would have benefited from exploring these relationships further.

Beware! SPOILERS are contained in the section underneath.

[spoiler] I was a bit sad that the ‘duel’ between Eva and Isadore was so short, when that was the whole premise the book was built upon and the whole book was spent building to this moment. It happened very, very close to the end, and spurred the revelation of Eva’s true heritage and essentially set in to motion the plot for the next book. So, I can’t help but feel like the ending felt a bit too quick, with reveal after reveal happening and the BAM! ending.

Don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t awfully done. But the whole book was built on the premise of the duel between sisters….and it barely even happened.

I had a feeling from the beginning that Eva wasn’t going to kill Isadore, because she’s all about changing the traditions of the past and undoing the injustice done against people. (I did have another thought of Isadore actually winning, in a surprise twist, and the sequel being from her POV. With Isadore’s characterisation, I’m glad it didn’t. I like Eva). So, that certainly makes things interesting for their relationship in the sequel, especially with the binding between them still being present, meaning Isadore is still the only one who can kill Eva…

END OF THE SPOILER-Y SECTION

I am very excited and looking forward to the sequel and where it will go.

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