Series: The Winnowing Flame Trilogy #1
Published by Headline (2.23.2017)
Genres: Adult, High Fantasy
Format: Paperback, 544 pages
Source: I own it
The great city of Ebora once glittered with gold. Now its streets are stalked by wolves. Tormalin the Oathless has no taste for sitting around waiting to die while the realm of his storied ancestors falls to pieces - talk about a guilt trip. Better to be amongst the living, where there are taverns full of women and wine.
When eccentric explorer, Lady Vincenza 'Vintage' de Grazon, offers him employment, he sees an easy way out. Even when they are joined by a fugitive witch with a tendency to set things on fire, the prospect of facing down monsters and retrieving ancient artefacts is preferable to the abomination he left behind.
But not everyone is willing to let the Eboran empire collapse, and the adventurers are quickly drawn into a tangled conspiracy of magic and war. For the Jure'lia are coming, and the Ninth Rain must fall...
WOW!! This is the single most unique world in any book that I’ve read for as long as I can remember! And it’s been a very long time since a book captivated me as much as this one did.
It wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns, I’m afraid…other than the first chapter (which definitely got my attention), the beginning was painfully slow. At first, I really only cared for Noon’s chapters – hers grabbed me from the very start – and after that first chapter, I was quite bored for some time. I wasn’t sure I was going to love this book, but Noon’s chapters kept me going. And I’m SO glad I pushed through! Once it hit about the 100 page mark – when the main 3 characters’ stories converge – I was helplessly hooked!
The world is by FAR the selling point of this novel. It’s unique, intricate, and well thought out…I can tell the author spent a lot of time on it. There’s a lot going on, but it never felt overwhelming. There’s snippets given here and there to help you understand the world and its history, so it was never info dumpy, which I appreciate! I have never read anything like this book in all my years of reading. I had zero problem picturing the world in my head because it was so vivid and cinematic! There’s a lot about the history you don’t really know for the majority of the book, and it led to a certain amount of mystery and intrigue that strings you along and keeps you wanting more.
The concept is SO COOL! The Jure’lia were creepy as hell, especially the “maggots” and their varnish (a sea of green glass with people trapped in it holy SHIT), and dead body of their behemoth in the sky called the “corpse moon” was pretty freaking rad. I’d love to see some concept art for this because I was hardcore picturing it; and even though I haven’t drawn in years, I was itching to attempt it anyway! I also LOVED the Shroom Flats – the forest of tree-sized mushrooms; and I adored Fulcor the giant bat. And the magical tree, a sleeping god, whose fruit once produced war-beasts of griffons, dragons, and big winged cats. GAH, I can’t rave enough about how awesome this whole world and scenery were!
I freaking LOVED how disturbing this book was!! The sea of green varnish, like I mentioned above, which is just excrement from the giant maggot creatures after eating everything in their path. Then there were the parasite spirits who literally turned people INSIDE OUT…and the crystal portal where some dude was trapped half in and half out, where one side was frozen in time and the other side literally wasted away to nothing and he couldn’t do anything about it…so many scenes had me all like:
And I loved every minute of that! Give me dark and disturbing any day! The characters were also quite vivid. I had zero problem picturing them all…I was itching to draw them, too! Noon was absolutely my favorite, I felt drawn to her the most and I wanted more of the Noon & Fulcor dynamic. I loved them so much! (It actually reminded me of the Manon/Abraxos dynamic, which was the ONLY thing I loved about ToG after the first book or two.) I didn’t care for Tor at first, but he slowly grew on me. He was quite funny, and I found myself enjoying his interactions with Noon. It wasn’t quite enemies to lovers, but they definitely were apathetic toward each other in the beginning, so it was pretty close. And ya’ll know that’s my fave trope! It wasn’t quite a romance, but skirted the edges of one; I love that romance wasn’t a focus, and it was a nice slow burn that took almost the whole book to develop.
There were some nice little twists in this book as well! I cherish a book that can actually surprise me. I did figure one thing out, but for the most part it kept me on my toes. View Spoiler »I had a feeling that the parasite spirits were actually the war-beasts – I didn’t know how, but I knew they were definitely connected. However, I was SHOOK when Hest said that she was the one sending the dreams of the Jure’lia! It was also a fantastic twist that the voice she’d been speaking to was actually the queen of Jure’lia, trapped in Ygseril’s roots, and not Ygseril himself. I did not see that coming!
Also, THE ENDING!! AHHHH! Omfg I can’t wait to see more of Vostok and the war beasts in the next book! « Hide Spoiler
So, after all that raving…why doesn’t this book get a full 5 stars? There were a couple things that bugged me. First, Vintage’s use of “my dear” and “my darling” drove me BONKERS. It got so bad in one chapter that it was actually taking me out of the story and I was getting super irritated with it! I’m talking like 3 times on one single page. Could have made a drinking game out of it, that’s how ridiculous it was. I didn’t care much for the House of the Long Night stuff either. If you notice below, my feels are also a little low. Other than being completely engrossed and a bit shocked (and sometimes disgusted), I really didn’t feel much. I didn’t connect to anyone but Noon (and Tor, a little) like I’d hoped to. I actually outright disliked Hest and Aldasair’s chapters and didn’t care about them very much. I also considered DNFing in the beginning because I was bored with everything but Noon’s chapters. The first 100 pages wouldn’t have topped 3/5, and the last half BLEW me away, so it evened out I suppose! I have high hopes that the second book will be a 5 star read!
Writing style: 4/5
Overall rating: 4.5/5