Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Received From: NetGalley
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.
SEXUALITY: presumed heterosexual
ROMANTIC ORIENTATION: presumed heteroromantic
TROPES: magical abilities, secret royalty, accidental sleep cuddling, the chosen one, visions/flashbacks
TAGS: new adult, fantasy, steampunk, black characters, biracial character, black author, interracial relationship, military personnel
WARNINGS: racism, physical injury, captivity, ableism, rape mention, attempted rape, torture, explicit violence, fire, slavery mention, child labor mention, anti-native phrasing, domestic violence mention, child abuse mention, anti-fat phrasing
Song of Blood & Stone is a lush, fast-paced, intriguing new fantasy that deserves far more attention than its received so far!
The worldbuilding is wonderful–shown through the points of view of both main characters, as well as flashbacks that act as visions for Jasminda. One thing in particular I enjoyed was that there were bits of folktales at the beginning of nearly every chapter that pertained to the plot within said chapter, which served to build a real place in my mind. These little bits of culture and beliefs were a great addition for helping readers see the peoples of this book as real cultures. The magic system was especially fascinating in and of itself–one where some people have magic (Songbearers, or Earthsingers) and some people have no magic at all (the Silent). It was very interesting to see how that affected the dynamics of all the characters, as well as the people in general. Predictably, there was violence and racial hatred towards the black Songbearing Lagrimari, simply because of their abilities and the color of their skin, even as the Silent Elsirans lived a substantially better life. It was incredibly difficult to read these parts of the novel, and it was impossible not to see the similarities between this fictional world and the real world we live in.
Also, I enjoyed both the main characters, and much of the supporting cast. From the first page, I fell in love with Jasminda. She is a strong, brave woman trying to save the only thing she has left in the world and determined not to let anything stop her. Throughout the novel, she continues to be a force to be reckoned with, both in her strength and her vulnerability. And Jack, soldier and prince, won me over with his strong sense of honor and duty. The two of them worked so well together–balancing each other out with their sense of logic and hope.
There were a few moments where I felt the plot dragged a bit, but I recognize that it’s the first book in a series, so there was a lot to fit into this one novel. Despite the slow moments, there was never a time where I was truly bored with the novel. It’s a great, interesting story that I definitely recommend everyone read.
Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. She is the author of fantasy and paranormal romance with characters who match the real world. Her debut novel, SONG OF BLOOD & STONE, won the 2016 Self-Publishing eBook Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. The fantasy series was picked up by St. Martin’s Press for publication starting 2018.
She was born in the Bronx, just after the birth of hip hop, but left before she could acquire an accent. Equally left and right-brained, she studied Film at Howard University and minored in Computer Science. This led to a graduate degree in Multimedia and a career in website development. She’s also an award-winning independent filmmaker, co-founded a literary magazine, and sometimes dreams in HTML.
Leslye lives in Maryland with her husband and their furry dependents: an eighty-pound lap dog and an aspiring feral cat. Sign up for new release information and giveaways on her website: http://www.lpenelope.com.