Author: Sarah Glenn Marsh
Publishing Date: January 23, 2018
Received: PageHabit January YA Box
“Learning is what makes things fun.”
Odessa is a master necromancer, catering to the kingdom’s ruling Dead. When a noble dies, Odessa is responsible for raising them and retrieving their spirit from the Deadlands. Unfortunately, though, death comes at cost to all. Both who enter the deadlands or leave it must be willing to make a sacrifice. For the living it takes fertility, and for the dead they must be covered in a shroud at all times. If their skin is shown to the living in even the smallest way they begin to transform into a bloodthirsty monster known as a Shade.
When the Shade attacks in Karthia become more frequent suspicions arise, and fear spreads among the people. Before long it’s determined that these attacks are not random, and Odessa is left to decipher a floral message from the Deadlands and find whoever or whatever is causing these attacks.
As death wreaks havoc on Karthia and in Odessa’s life secrets are revealed and a seething underbelly of an otherwise peaceful world is discovered. Fighting alongside her fellow necromancers and the new friends she makes, Odessa must untangle the gruesome plot to destroy Karthia before she loses everything she knows and loves.
Pros & Cons:
One of the biggest pros about this book is the way that Marsh is able to include diverse (LGBTQ+) characters in her novel without losing site of the story. I feel that often times authors get so caught up in trying to vindicate and support specific groups by creating diverse characters that they lose site of the original plot at times. In this novel Marsh includes LGBTQ+ characters seamlessly into society while also keeping her focus on the whole of the story. There’s no preaching, or agenda, she simply blends them into society where different sexualities are normal and go un-judged.
As far as cons are concerned, I struggled with the middle of the novel. It felt slow at times, which made it hard to read as quickly as I wanted to. I often needed to take breaks because I was unable to get to the action packed scenes quick enough – though I also acknowledge I have been in a reading slump for about two weeks. Additionally, I found myself skimming certain pieces just so I could get back to the action, which I think everyone does at some point in their reading, but I do wish that I had been able to better enjoy every piece of this literary work.
Our protagonist, Odessa, has some awesome qualities as a character, but she also makes some decisions that irritate the crap out of me. One of my favorite things about Odessa, though, is that she needs only to prove anything to herself. She’s not hyper focused on impressing the world, and though she battles insecurities like anyone else, she doesn’t really let that fuel her interactions with others. Now of course, after death bleeds into Odessa’s life and she’s mourning she makes a lot of dumb decisions. I can’t say that I expect anything less of someone who has experienced loss, but as her relationships with new friends progress I feel as if many things moved way too fast and felt very rushed – which was fueled in some ways by the loss experienced.
Valoria is introduced early on in the novel, and quickly becomes my favorite character. She reveals herself to be somewhat of a silent rebel as she sees a world deserving of change, while her King idolizes the ability to remain the same. With all the characteristics and strength of someone who could really make a difference in Karthia it’s easy to admire her, especially when you get a taste for her spunk and sass. Jax, however, is probably my least favorite character. He’s impulsive, controlling, and an emotional wreck constantly seeking revenge and death. His attitude just grates me, to be honest.
Meredy is an important character in the plot later on, but I can’t really get a grip on my feelings of her. She’s definitely kick-ass – and her bear Lysander gives me life – but she’s also kind of a jerk. She mimics Odessa in the dumb-decisions department, too, which though I understand why it doesn’t make it any less irritating.
Ultimately I gave this book four stars for Sarah’s ability to include diverse characters, and because I love a good necromancer story. Personally, I might have given it a 3.5 star rating had she not managed to seamlessly include diverse characters. Regardless of anyone’s personal opinions, LGBTQ+ members are real people and should be included in fiction, no differently than those of different skin colors should also be included in fiction. Marsh created a well-written story with action packed scenes that had me hungry for more. I gave it a 15+ age rating for descriptive fighting/death scenes and steamy kissing scenes, but aside from that it is well placed in the YA genre. I’m eager to know your thoughts!