This book- if I had two words to describe it- oh hell two phrases: interesting concept with huge doses of frustrating frustrating!
So, Kessa and Iathor.
Kessa is a low class gutter raised "herb witch". She has a chip on her shoulder approximately the size of the universe. She's ugly and has vomit spit dog shit eyes I tell you! I probably shouldn't tell you that though because you will be reading that phrase and variations of about a billion times to describe her eyes and also everyone's reactions to her barbarian eyes. That's- frustrating to me. I GET IT. She has ugly eyes and she's ugly. So a half breed urchin raised to run petty crimes for her guardians is targeted by the esteemed and noble blooded Lord Alchemist himself- because she's immune to alchemy.
Iachor- its hard to get a sense of him even since he's just wincing and reacting to Kessa the entire book. He's a kind enough man although according to Kessa's thoughts he's high handed, irritating, arrogant etc. I didn't find him to really be that way at all which just gives you another hint to how completely maladjusted Kessa is. Iathor is at least likable if practical in his approach to Kessa. His hugest flaw is totally coddling his clearly good for nothing brother, Iasen.
There is little reason to like Kessa. Sympathize a bit
, yes! But all she does is gripe about the fact that Iathor wants to marry her..to own her she feels. She worries about being a brood mare etc. Understandable, yes, but as I say often enough that doesn't make it enjoyable to read about. I guess my frustration stems from the repetition.
Some of the character interactions are charming.
Her writing is very good- its just that the story frustrates.
The cover- yeah I like the cover! So sue me- anyway it looks like watercolor work and it's pretty.
I'm already reading the second book. I have reasons for sure- while I didn't LOVE this book- I needed some answers. Who the hell are the Shadowmasters and Guild? And it is very obvious who the criminal really is in book one and I for one would at least like to see them get the justice they deserve. Also - since the book ended the way it did, well I want to see the development of that thing. I in fact do not understand why this was broken up into two books- but fair enough.
This by the way ISN'T romantic. It's more fantasy- and heavily laced with very earthy and repugnant ideas of alchemy and herb witchery. For those that are easily disgusted I'd say stay away.