Title: Song of Blood and Stone (Earthsinger Chronicles #1)
Author: Leslye Penelope
Publish Date: May 1, 2018
ARC provided from St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley for a fair review.
A treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers.
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.
This book has so many good things about it, the problem I found is that I think having it all in one book ended up taking away from the importance of each issue. Racial, refugee/immigration, power struggle, star crossed love, magical, social status, LGBTQ, and even good vs. evil all became too many good ingredients in the pot. Truly, there was so much good stuff in here, but I thought that they didn’t get the time spent for each attribute that it should be due. Although they each went hand in hand, the pitch seemed too much at once.
First of all, I thought the romance was a little unbearable. I’m all for instalove, but this just felt off to me. I’m not even sure where the romance was beyond Jack being healed by a woman who should have been scared for her life? I kept wondering if he would stop obsessing about her skin. And no, it wasn’t in reference to the color of her skin, but the smoothness. Hannibal jokes were passed between my BR and I, that’s how often her skin came up! Aside from that I never felt connected enough to either character to feel like I should be rooting on their romance. It was incredibly sweet, however, how kind Jack was towards Jasminda. In most of his actions, he often put her safety and position above his own. Albeit, it ended up repeatedly hurting her, his intentions were always good.
The story pacing seemed to bounce around quite a bit too. I do love that the book moved quickly and didn’t spend too much time moving the plot along, but I think in the end with the combined amount of topics hit within the story made it go from issue to issue to issue with stunted transitions. Meanwhile, the main characters sort of just go with the flow – sort of in a, if you say so I guess it’s true, sort of manner. Okay, so really, not that simple, but I kept thinking to myself, really? That easy? No questions, asked, just jump right in the foray.
I would like to point out how beautiful the cover art is. A part of me wants to rate this book so much higher because it is just so pretty. But I don’t personally think that’s fair. Just because the book covers so many important topics in a gentle way does not mean that it made a great book. I would have loved to read this book alone as a series where the issues were broken up a little bit more. Seeing that it is a series, I wonder what else can really be covered because the ending wrapped up so nicely for our main characters.
Trigger Warnings: attempted rape, kidnapping, violence, and racism.
The World Building
I loved the magical elements of this world. I thought that the imbalance of the magical power added to the conflict of the story. I think my favorite part was that the magic ultimately was used for peacefulness and never, except with the twisted or in self defense, was it used for violence or control.
I didn’t like how the word was built around a fantasy based magical realism. The fact that early 20th century vibes were underplayed with a fictional magical world just didn’t fit for me. I thought it could have gone full on fantasy and incorporated real world items like vehicles and telephones within those realms. It ended up making me more confused about time period and the possibilities to the world.
Jasminda was such a sweet character. Her personality was one of acceptance and care with little resolve for self preservation. Throughout the story she continually puts herself in danger to help someone else. I think what I really appreciated about her as a character was that she wasn’t portrayed as the chosen one. There were many instances where she had the opportunity or capability to do something, and unfortunately, that wasn’t explained very well. What made Jasminda so much different than the other Earthsingers? Was she related to someone vital to the story? Don’t know, if I read it, I didn’t realize it was evident to the story. So even though Jasminda is a likeable character I just didn’t see how she was worked into the story with her greater purpose.
Nas feat Lauryn Hill – If I Ruled the World
About the Author
Leslye Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. She is an award-winning author of new adult, fantasy, and paranormal romance. She lives in Maryland with her husband and their furry dependents: an eighty-pound lap dog and an aspiring feral cat.