Title: Song of Blood and Stone
Author: L. Penelope
Category: NA Fantasy
Publisher/Date: St. Martin’s Press/1 May 2018
Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.
Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.
Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.
The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. This book has content warnings for attempted rape, violence, death, war themes, sex, self harm (one short sentence), and racism (societal issue that is addressed).
This was a solid book! It read a lot like a fairy tale, and was a wonderful blend of love, family drama, and larger societal issues. Jasminda, the main character, is biracial (Elsira are light-skinned people who do not have magic, and Lagamiri are dark-skinned people who do have magic, and her parents came from both sides), and she has a complicated status within the society that’s well-explored throughout the book. The romance is very sweet and it was nice to see a healthy relationship with communication and apologizing for mistakes (although there are some lines in the sex scenes that sound more painful than pleasurable to me? Overall they were good, but they weren’t excellent), and I really enjoyed Jasminda and Jack’s interactions.
Although it’s set in the past, I also really loved how the book brought up contemporary issues such as racism on a societal level as well as refugees, and I think that it has a lot of potential for starting discussions around these topics. I thought these topics were handled really well within the text; there were no watered-down descriptions of how these things affect the people in the book, and I really want to see more of this because it’s all too easy to get stuck looking at the world from just one perspective.
My main issue with the book is pacing; I thought the pacing was excellent through the second half of the book, but felt that the first half was a little too uneven and slow. It held my attention and kept me reading, but I thought that if it were a little tighter my reading experience would have been better. Additionally, there’s a part very early on in the text where Jasminda thinks about how she had worried about herself getting raped by some dangerous man but she became suddenly preoccupied with preventing them from raping Jack, and it sort of read like she felt it would be worse if Jack were raped than if she were, and that was a little uncomfortable. It’s not a persistent thing throughout the book; just one little moment.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I would definitely recommend it.
Final rating: 4 of 5 stars