Title: Hope and Red
Author: Jon Skovron
Series: Empire of Storms Trilogy #1
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
In a fracturing empire spread across savage seas, two young people from different cultures find common purpose.
A nameless girl is the lone survivor when her village is massacred by biomancers, mystical servants of the emperor. Named after her lost village, Bleak Hope is secretly trained by a master Vinchen warrior as an instrument of vengeance.
A boy becomes an orphan on the squalid streets of New Laven and is adopted by one of the most notorious women of the criminal underworld, given the name Red, and trained as a thief and con artist.
When a ganglord named Deadface Drem strikes a bargain with the biomancers to consolidate and rule all the slums of New Laven, the worlds of Hope and Red come crashing together, and their unlikely alliance takes them further than either could have dreamed possible.
It's been a long time since I've really red a true fantasy novel, much less an adult one. However this was just what I needed. It was interesting, it was fast-paced, with unique characters, and kept me intrigued the whole time.
My biggest issue with fantasy is often that I can't keep all the world-building straight, but I did not really have this problem. I found it interesting, this world of biomancers. I also enjoyed Hope and Red. They were worlds apart, and written distinctly. Hope is set on vengeance, payback for what happened to her village years ago. Red wants power. But when they have to learn how to work together.
I feel like Hope went through more growth and transformation than Red (but of course their story isn't over). She is still bent on vengeance, but she learns how to redirect it for a greater good. Both of them learn things about themselves and about what they want, for themselves but also for their world. I also loved all the secondary characters. They were fleshed out, and just as important to the story. I liked seeing the intertwining storylines. While most of the book is told from the POV of either Hope or Red, sometimes we get a different perspective that adds a whole new dimension to the story.
The story was fast-paced, and kept my interest the whole time. I think the end was a little too fast, and not as well put-together as the rest, but it was still good. It isn't so unpredictable or anything, but it is still a good story. This is a little more adult than I usually review, just throwing that out there.
All in all, I thought this was an excellent story, and I will be looking forward to the rest of the series.
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