Photographer, book reviewer, mama, cat-lover in Seattle. Originally from England.
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One of the most hyped books of 2018, with not one, but two versions of early review copies sent out to reviewers and booksellers months in advance, some with a special promo box, 'Furyborn' has been primed for its release for (I'm hazarding a guess) about 8 months now. Every blogger and reviewer I know has wanted to get their hands on a copy of this book to read and review (and likely have the 'one with the artwork on the cover' in their permanent collection) because it is THE book on everyone's blog, and the 'must-read fantasy series of 2018', according to blurb on the back of the book. The publicity campaign has done a rip-roaringly good job to get everyone on board. So does it live up to the hype? Those are high stakes these days when YA fantasy is the genre to reel everyone in.
The premise is grand: two young women, one thousand years apart from each other, hold the immense power that will either save their world or doom it. Each one is either the queen of light and salvation, or the queen of blood and destruction, according to prophecy: which one is the Sun Queen, and who is the Blood Queen?
Rielle Dardenne must endure seven trials to test her magic, which she has been hiding since was a child, and prove herself to be in control of her elemental powers, or she will be executed. Then, some thousand years later, Eliana Ferracora is the counterpart to would-be Queen Rielle. She is a bounty hunter and assassin, known as the ‘Dread of Orline’, and she goes on a mission to find her mother who has been taken along with countless other women, in the violent empire of Ventera. Eliana has had to join a rebel captain, the ‘Wolf’, to get to the heart of the disappearances. And while Rielle knew of her powers for many years, Eliana is just coming to terms with her magic, the power that her body has to heal itself. These two storylines and timelines alternate back and forth throughout the novel, between Rielle and Eliana, and don’t seem to relate to each other; the only thing binding them together throughout is talk of the Sun and Blood Queen .
So I’ll be honest: it was really hard for me to connect to ‘Furyborn’, and I dipped in and out of the book for a while and read several complete other books at the same time, which is unusual for me. It’s only at about halfway through the book that I became more invested in the story and the characters (and then only somewhat), and then I reserved my time solely to this book. For a long book (512 pages), having to read half of it to get invested, is close to reading a whole shorter-length YA novel, so that’s a lot of reading to try and see what all the fuss is about. It’s not to say there wasn’t any action happening on those pages; it just felt like it wasn’t going anywhere. I couldn’t even put my finger on why I felt like the action wasn't ‘happening’, but I rarely ever skim through words on a page but sometimes I wanted to because the same stuff seemed to keep repeating itself.
I was also getting tired of the back and forth between the two storylines; maybe if the reader got to sit with one of the characters longer, a better connection could be felt. I personally felt like you never are given a true feeling for the actual relationships in this book because you can never stay with them long enough to connect with them.
Both lead characters lack the real spunk or inner beauty that I feel they needed to shine through as deserved heroines, so maybe that was what held me back from truly loving their stories. I didn’t feel like either of them were pulling me through to the finish line.
Despite the world-building and the pretty fascinating underbelly of this novel built on dark angels and visions, which are pretty good openings for some amazing subplots, as well as the thrilling opening to the book ‘An End, and a Beginning’, I don’t feel like ‘Furyborn’ delivered for me.
Legrand is a dynamic author and her lyrical writing skills make much of what you read look like poetry. But I don’t like feeling as though a book is 100 pages longer than it needs to be, just so a book is an ‘epic fantasy novel’. I also wanted more time (but not with extra pages) to get to know these characters so I could connect to them. I hate feeling like I’m writing all of this and it will be an unpopular opinion, but I think this could have been so much better, because this was a ‘big one’, but I’ll be reaching, not for the sequel of this, but for Legrand’s ‘Sawkill Girls’ next.