“Vow to vow, blood to blood, soul to soul. For as long as the sun shines, the wind roams, the sea flows, and the earth pulses, may you belong to each other, never to part. I give you the Cadre Tiresias’s blessing.”
3/5 paper planes
What’s This Book About?
Genre: Fantasy (romance; shapeshifting; time-travel)
Publication: 9 March 2021
Pages: 257 (ebook)
Synopsis: After plunging into a lake, Lan wakes up in the body of a girl thousands of years in the future. Yet, she never forgot her promise to him.
Across space-time, “he” has the same appearance as “him”, but “he” is no longer human, and “he”… is no longer “him”.
They say love in this lifetime is a repaying of debt from the previous one.
When the rain falls and the meadows burgeon with blossoms blue as the sky, who still remembers the language of the flower, and who cannot let go?
Content warnings (highlight to see): blood; hospitals; injury, death and murder, loss of a loved one; sex/sexual references; sexual assault; threat of sexual violence; graphic violence
What I Thought:
This book had a really interesting premise with human-animal shapeshifters in a highly original urban fantasy world.
I can actually see this translating well to a manga format – while reading I could clearly visualise an awesome flashback history of the Sylvans and Clans over a double page spread – and perhaps a comic/manga depiction would make the frequent “…” in the dialogue feel less strange. Having them in the prose text felt a bit like I’d suddenly switched to reading a script for one line before switching back. On the topic of the history/culture of the Society (you’ll understand why that’s capitalised if you read this book), I sensed some undercurrents of heteronormativity and isolated twinges of fatphobia, which I think are part of how rigid this fantasy Society’s norms are.
The plot and cast of characters are complex and while I was sometimes confused, a lot became clear as we drew to a close. (Though admittedly I was still befuddled on certain fronts.) I particularly enjoyed the insight that Allison’s epilogue gives about her character and backstory – I’m guessing Charlotte and Lorrie were the same person (Conall’s wife and Sebastian’s mother?) – and I had a feeling there was a lot more to her than vengeful spite ever since she protected a servant girl without any clear benefit on Allison’s part. The author mentioned that writing Allison’s epilogue was heartbreaking and I can definitely see why.
Greyscale gif of BTS j-hope thumping chest and yellow captions read ‘my heart is…my heart is…’
There were some amazing standout scenes that were very gripping with shocking twists, or just very funny! Some of my (spoiler-free) favourites included the wedding and the quagga scene. There were also several moments with really beautiful writing and/or refreshing metaphors too.
The kindness he showed and the gentle looks in his eyes – they were but a reflection of her desires. The boat tipped. She fell in. Only now swimming in the waters did she feel his bottomless depth.
When did the lies begin, and where did the truth end?
Within many scenes however, I often found the frequent switches in POV quite bewildering. It felt like I was being yanked out of characters’ heads and dropped into another without much preamble, rather than omniscient narration. However, as the book progresses this issue cropped up less and less for me and the transitions felt more natural/understandable. There were some plot threads that felt a bit red-herring-esque, for example (highlight for spoiler) the drug to forcibly renounce one’s human form forever, or Levi being the white tiger of the Tigris Clan. I kept thinking they would play out to be really significant!
Interestingly the synopsis led me to believe that the romance would be between two different people than what actually transpired. (Highlight for spoiler) I thought for ages that it would be the time-traveling Lan and her past love Ju (and the flashbacks of their relationship development had honestly such adorable friends-to-lovers vibes), or even Rodrigo. The unexpected romantic partner isn’t inherently a problem, I just unfortunately didn’t like the love interest at all. I found them absolutely too creepy and possessive, and genuinely thought for the majority of the book that they were a two-faced antagonist who was about to betray Lan’s love in a self-serving way. I don’t blame myself though because there were definitely lines and narration where the love interest seemed to be emotionally manipulating Lan. Big villain vibes, akin to the Darkling from the Grishaverse. I’m definitely very interested in a (highlight for spoiler) descent-into-villainy story for a certain character from Lan’s past though…
A white man with longish brown hair and a beard, looking angry and saying ‘Make me your villain’ – General Kirigan from ‘Shadow and Bone’
Overall this was a unique urban fantasy with memorable characters and an intriguing plotline – and I’d be remiss not to mention the beautiful cover! It was definitely satisfying to read up to certain points and have the lightbulb go off as to why each particular element is present on the cover.
Thank you to the author for a copy for an honest review.