Updated: Mar 1, 2019
I don't even know where to start with this review. Ok, I lied. I know exactly where to start. I really enjoy reading negative reviews. I could scroll for hours on Goodreads looking at the 1 star reviews for books I loved and hated. They are fascinating, especially in comparison to the five stars. Which I am giving this book. There are a surprising amount of 1 and 2 star reviews for this book-and there is a trend as to why. A trend that I am going to burn down right here and now; not with divinity, but with facts. A HEROINE CAN STILL BE STRONG IF SHE FALLS IN LOVE. A woman can make mistakes and feel her feelings and deserve respect. Emotions aren't weakness. Yep. I said it. So many of the 1 star reviews said that our MC Nadya stopped being a strong female lead because she became a love interest and I 100% disagree. Because I am fighting against this narrative, I may litter this review with spoilers. SO if you haven't read the book yet, stop reading this review and go preorder (or order depending on when you are reading this) now. Here are the reasons why I LOVED this book: 1) The tie between religion and heresy was so...delicious. I could feel it, taste it, I was conflicted by it. It isn't even real and I found myself debating it. This conflict tied me to our MC. Her conflict between the freedom of her own power and the divinity of the gods felt so natural and unique. 2) THE LANGUAGE. I loved the way Emily used multiple languages between the countries. It was mostly in English of course, but she described the differences between the languages as hard and soft. I also loved the way that she tied the MC to her home language, though she was multilingual. 3) The love interest. DAMNIT. I am so emotional right now because I just finished the book. I should probably have taken a couple of days to stew. Consider. Come up with better words. BUT MY GOD. (SPOILERRRRR) I don't think I have ever had my heart torn out of my chest like this. I could not breathe toward the end. The conflict was so real and raw. 4) Nadya was a badass. I DON'T care what anyone says. I am so annoyed that people think that a girl having feelings for a guy makes her weak. Yes, mistakes were made. BUT. But I felt that it was a very realistic experience. Trauma bonds are a real thing. Huge, bad, emotional experiences cement people together for better or for worse. I did not feel that the emotions between Nadya and her LI were rushed or unnatural in any way. 5) The atmosphere was incredible. I loved the tiny, dark, gothic details. AND SO MUCH BLOOD. I'm not a girl for gore, but the author made it so elegant and sacrificial and powerful. There is only one complaint I had about this book and it is something that you will see noted in the 1 star reviews as well. It wasn't enough to knock any stars from my review because in my world story and character are king. In the later sections of the book I did find myself a little bit lost. There were jumps between scenes where I might have expected a *** separating the time. A few times I found myself a little bit lost and confused. It was not enough to stop me from reading and while I stopped to question it, it did not actually break the tension for me. I can see the comparison to the Grisha books in this one, if only because the blessed saint of a girl and the Russian parallels, but honestly, I liked this book more.