Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: April 2020
Source: Edelweiss ARC
|Read an ARC acquired via Edelweiss
This standalone fantasy has everything: political intrigue, a death-based magic system, invented religion, and demon racing. In the desert world of Becar, people are reincarnated upon death and the worst of the worst are reincarnated as kehoks, or demons that are the dream spawn of Simic monster hybrids (see examples here). Tamra Velras is a down-on-her-luck trainer of kehoks, and buys one with the intent to fix her reputation after an accident the previous racing season. Raia is a young woman on the run from her controlling family and sees a chance for freedom in becoming a rider. But a conspiracy is brewing and their kehok may have all the answers.
The world of this novel has so many details. It feels lived in, with its own traditions and a tightly wound belief system which ties into the magic. The kehoks are alluring and terrifying, and it’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of the races. In addition, their existence opens up an in-book quandary about whether we live for the today or hope for better lots in the future.
Which leads us to the characters. I loved them all. Everyone had a fully fleshed out backstory, with Tamra fiercely protecting the life she’d built and Raia’s search for the family she never had. Even the politicians and augurs (priests) had such intricately woven machinations, I could not wait to see what happened next in either story line. The way these two different threads came together in the very end is a plotter’s envy. I dropped my jaw on several occasions.
A thrilling and enthralling stand alone which hits the right notes for any fantasy lover with expertly placed plot twists and a heart rooted in destiny vs. choices and in found family.