This review is done in conjunction with the author's tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a Tarot Doll of their choice to a randomly drawn commenter (US/Canada Only) during the tour More information: http://www.smblooding.com/ht1-order-tarot-doll-autographed-book, so leave your thoughts here and you're entered! If you want more chances to win, visit the rest of her tour stops here.
Rated: 3.5 Stars
She killed his father.
She imprisoned and beat him.
And now she thinks he’s her trophy.
Synn El’Asim will do almost anything to prove her wrong. But he’s only proving her right.
Queen Nix awakened his Mark of power and inducted him into the House of Wands. She knew what she was doing. The son of the two most powerful Families standing against her is the ultimate prize.
What she didn’t take into consideration was that maybe he was too strong for her. Maybe.
The Families aren’t. They’ve been weakened, and it’ll take a lot more than one young man with a powerful Mark to take on the Hands of Tarot.
My review: With a new take on steampunk and amazingly proficient writing skills, SM Blooding has created a book that both intrigued me and puzzled me. She's got a clever new plot here with sympathetic characters (well, except for Nix, who is truly evil personified) and a fascinating world populated with different peoples, animals and creatures. That's where both the intrigue and the puzzlement came in.
I'm a pretty savvy reader, and can pick up things quickly. Usually. This book I struggled with a bit as I was plunged into a remarkably complex world that wasn't well described (perhaps its complexity made that difficult without creating what sounds like a textbook). The characters were well described, thankfully. The author painstakingly helps us meet each person one at a time as Synn returns to his mother's from a journey. For this I was truly grateful, as I'll read anything if I'm invested in the the people and I was right from the start. And, truthfully, effective world-building can be difficult. You don't want to bore the reader with tons of details or backstory, but you want them to understand what's going on. Maybe it's just because I've not read a lot in this genre, but it took a bit for me to catch on. Regardless, I enjoyed the concepts behind this book enough to plug on through my problem because I wanted to know what happened to Synn.
Synn is a young man who's disappointed his mother (because he has no mark). When his best friend arrives and says his family has been attacked, Synn and his father go to rescue the survivors. Only, the attackers, the Hands, aren't merciful. Synn's father is killed horribly (as are the survivors of the attack) and Synn himself is captured and tortured because his mark -- an amazingly powerful mark -- manifests during this conflict.
His torture is violent, sexual (what amounts to rape of his mind and his body) and sometimes gruesome (Nix likes to burn people alive). This makes it a book I can't recommend to younger teens. Aside from this, though, there's little graphic violence or sex.
I loved the second half of this book. Loved the people Synn and his friends meet, the places they go and I especially enjoyed watching Synn come into his own as he matures. He truly becomes a person to admire, though it takes time and plenty of work. The way this book ends shows how much he's changed and absolutely made me ready to read the next in the series to find out what happens next. Now that I have a firmer grip on the world, I'm positive I'll enjoy the sequel even more than the first.
If you're a fan of unusual steampunk novels, I'd recommend you pick this one up. Just give yourself some time to get into the story. You won't regret it. I didn't.
Now, read an excerpt:
I woke freezing, my teeth chattering.
I tried to sit up, but my head was pounding so hard, it made me nauseous.
“Lay back,” a soft voice murmured, gentle hands pressing down on my bare shoulders. “Be at ease. You are safe now, Synn Primus.”
I shook my head, falling back onto the soft pillows. My back was on fire where the pillows touched it. “Not—” It was so hard to speak. My tongue felt thick. “Not my name.”
“Yes it is, you goose.” Something was draped over me.
I let out a startled yell and threw it off. Everywhere it touched burned.
It was draped over me again. This time the hands pressed it down on my shoulders, keeping it in place. “You have been Marked by the House of Wands, so you now bear our name. You are a Primus, Synn. Welcome.”
My whole world stopped.
I’d lost my father. He was—
I closed my eyes and fell back.
I’d watched so many others die, their children made to watch as those they loved were lost.
And now? I’d lost my life to the Hands?
No. I shook my head and rose. No. “No. This can’t be.”
She pushed me back. “How else do you explain it?” A warm thumb ran over my brow. “You survived the fire, Synn.” She pulled the blanket away, a cool finger running over where I burned. “And how do you explain this? This is your Mark, Synn, the thing you have been waiting for your entire life.”
My father’s strong, rigid face swam before my eyes, so fierce and strong as the fire rose to claim him, writhing with the pain of it. A sob seeped from my chest. “Not like this.”
I was gathered in her arms. She held me close, cupping my head to her chest as she rocked me. She crooned a song I’d never heard. I wasn’t paying attention. I was overwhelmed with what I had lost; my Family, my home, my self.
About the author:
She’s dated vampires, werewolves, sorcerers, weapons smugglers and US Government assassins. Yes. She has stories.
She’s also an investigator with a local paranormal investigation group, Colorado Paranormal Rescue!