Published by Margaret K. McElderry (10.5.2021)
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Format: eARC, 400 pages
The dead of Loraille do not rest.
Artemisia is training to be a Gray Sister, a nun who cleanses the bodies of the deceased so that their souls can pass on; otherwise, they will rise as spirits with a ravenous hunger for the living. She would rather deal with the dead than the living, who trade whispers about her scarred hands and troubled past.
When her convent is attacked by possessed soldiers, Artemisia defends it by awakening an ancient spirit bound to a saint’s relic. It is a revenant, a malevolent being that threatens to possess her the moment she drops her guard. Wielding its extraordinary power almost consumes her—but death has come to Loraille, and only a vespertine, a priestess trained to wield a high relic, has any chance of stopping it. With all knowledge of vespertines lost to time, Artemisia turns to the last remaining expert for help: the revenant itself.
As she unravels a sinister mystery of saints, secrets, and dark magic, her bond with the revenant grows. And when a hidden evil begins to surface, she discovers that facing this enemy might require her to betray everything she has been taught to believe—if the revenant doesn’t betray her first.
I am embarrassed that it took me so long to finally review this book, but here we are.
Even though this wasn’t my favorite Rogerson book by far, I still thoroughly enjoyed it!
My main complaint with this book was that I found the pacing to be rather slow. Sorcery of Thorns and An Enchantment of Ravens both grabbed me immediately, and I was captivated by both of them from the get-go (especially Sorcery, which is one of my all time favorite standalones). This one took me a while to get into, and I was pretty bored in the beginning. However, when Artemisia and the Fifth Order revenant get stuck with each other, everything changed!
The concept was AWESOME! I loved the idea of relics and the revenants that were bound to them, and that the members using the relics of power risked possession by the revenants contained in them if they weren’t strong enough. The Orders of revenants were awesome too – basically different types of deaths denoted different levels (One through Five, with Five being the most dangerous).
“If there’s one thing I can always rely upon, it’s the reassuring dependability of human idiocy.”
I liked that the main character, Artemisia, was super socially awkward, kind of prickly, and pessimistic toward human nature. It made her easy to relate to. However, my FAVE character in this whole book, hands down, was Rathanael, aka Artemisia’s revenant. I freaking LOVED him!!! Their relationship was the driving point of this book for me. There’s nothing I love more than the enemies to x (lovers/friends/cranky allies) trope. I love that it started out as expected – an evil Fifth Order (aka he’s BAD. Really bad, mkay) revenant trying to take over its human guardian that was strapped with said guardianship. They’re stuck with each other (he was literally stuck in her head), and don’t want to be, and it starts off fueled by hatred and resentment. But somewhere along the way, the started softening to each other. I ADORED their banter and constant sniping, it was hilarious!
“It happens sometimes,” I said colorlessly. “I have a condition.”
“Nice try, but I’ve been called worse.”
I adored it even more when there were points that Rathanael’s humanity grudgingly came out, like when Artemisia said she strongly suspected he’d enjoyed when she got her hair braided even though he’d never admit it. My favorite part about this book was seeing their bond grow! (I might have squee’d a bit when he called Artemisia “my human.”)
“In fact, for a human, you make remarkably few stupid decisions. Only rarely do I want to possess you and bash your brains out against a wall.”
They are one of my favorite platonic fictional relationships I’ve read in a while!
Writing style: 4/5
Overall rating: 4/5