In a world where the Roman Empire never fell, two starcrossed lovers fight to ignite the spark of rebellion…
Londinium, the last stronghold of the Romans left in Britannia, remains in a delicate state of peace with the ancient kingdoms that surround it. As the only daughter of a powerful merchant, Cassandra is betrothed to Marcus, the most eligible bachelor in the city. But then she meets Devyn, the boy with the strange midnight eyes searching for a girl with magic in her blood. A boy who will make her believe in soulmates…
When a mysterious sickness starts to leech the life from citizens with Celtic power lying dormant in their veins, the imperial council sets their schemes in motion. And so Cassandra must make a choice: the Code or Chaos, science or sorcery, Marcus or Devyn?
My review – without spoilers
After reading several reviews I decided to DNF this book at the 50% mark because I was not enjoying it and based on the reviews the story wouldn’t develop into something I’d enjoy reading. I’ll be talking about the points I had written down whilst reading the book in this review, so you’ll still get a clear review of the story. My review will also explain why I put this book down.
If you read the synopsis you could guess that it’s quite a romance heavy book, however if you don’t like reading too much of a synopsis because it often times just tells too much, then you’re in for a surprise. You need to know going into this book that it’s romance heavy, or else you’ll be disappointed.
Even though this book is heavy on the romance, it also has a fair bit of different themes. Within the romance part we have a love triangle, soulmates, arranged marriage and starcrossed lovers. The story takes place in a science heavy world which is based on an alternate history of Europe where they’re basically still living in the Roman Empire, but it’s also quite heavy on British history. None of those world related themes are actually properly explained. There’s hardly any world building at all. The only thing about the world you get to know is that the citizens decide the fate of people who broke the law in an amphitheatre. That was very interesting to discover, but unfortunately you don’t discover anything else about the politics or the world. You don’t get to understand how the world or the politics in it work. But still the book manages to be very info dumping, but the type of info the book was dumping, was not interesting or necessary.
It just felt like the author wanted to add too much tropes and themes into this one book, that none of it was fleshed out or worked properly. Everything just lacked something. For example: the romance between Cassandra and Devyn. They’ve known each other for years but never really talked to each other. But all of a sudden they fall head over heels in love by talking once? And they’re excessively touching each other by the third time they’re talking. There was really just zero chemistry between the two and as a reader you don’t believe it or care for their relationship one little bit.
And then there’s Cassandra’s other love interest Marcus, the one she’s been betrothed since she was 12. Even though he played an obvious smaller role in the story, he felt like the most realistic and fleshed out character out of all of them. He was the only one I cared a little bit for. Even the chemistry between him and Cassandra was bigger than between Cassandra and Devyn, just because Marcus had more personality to him. And that really says something when the author obviously wants you to root for Cassandra and Devyn.
Once you discover Cassandra is supposed to be 22, Devyn 26 and Marcus 27, you’re blown off your socks because they, especially Cassandra and Devyn, act like 14-15 year olds. On top of that they, once again especially Cassandra and Devyn, keep changing personalities every single chapter. They seem to change their mind or the way they think about something and the way they act for no apparent reason. It’s just the next chapter and they act, talk and think in a different way, yep makes sense?! That also just makes the characters so unrealistic. For example: Cassandra is supposed to be the good, rich girl who always follows the rules, but then she discovers her world is not as good at it seems, so she starts rebelling. It was just that one chapter she is a rebel and the next she is goody-two-shoes again without an explanation as to why she changed her mind. It also just became so annoying and repetitive to constantly see her change from the rebel to the girl next door every other chapter. It made her a very unbelievable character.
And last, but not least, the narration style just felt really… awkward. There were these weird time jumps between chapters and they were never really explained. But then the characters would tell you what happened during the time we skipped. What happened to ‘show don’t tell’? Why not just show us what happened instead of letting a character tell us what happened? The characters would drag on and on and on when telling you what happened, so it really wouldn’t have made the book longer to just show the reader what happened without the awkward time jumps.
I still definitely think that if you like fantasy/scifi romance, you might like this. I just prefer my fantasy books to have a great world with interesting politics, and for the romance to be a very little part of the story, or even non-existent, I wouldn’t care. Unfortunately, I couldn’t judge whether or not this book had a great world and interesting politics, because it was never even explained.
*I was gifted an e-arc of this book by the publisher via Netgalley. Thank you very much. However, that doesn’t influence my opinion or what I wrote in my review in any way.*