Title // A River Of Royal Blood
Author // Amanda Joy
Publisher // Putnam/Penguin
Publication Date // October 29 2019
Synopsis // Sixteen-year-old Eva is a princess, born with the magick of marrow and blood–a dark and terrible magick that hasn’t been seen for generations in the vibrant but fractured country of Myre. Its last known practitioner was Queen Raina, who toppled the native khimaer royalty and massacred thousands, including her own sister, eight generations ago, thus beginning the Rival Heir tradition. Living in Raina’s long and dark shadow, Eva must now face her older sister, Isa, in a battle to the death if she hopes to ascend to the Ivory Throne–because in the Queendom of Myre only the strongest, most ruthless rulers survive.
When Eva is attacked by an assassin just weeks before the battle with her sister, she discovers there is more to the attempt on her life than meets the eye–and it isn’t just her sister who wants to see her dead. As tensions escalate, Eva is forced to turn to a fey instructor of mythic proportions and a mysterious and handsome khimaer prince for help in growing her magick into something to fear. Because despite the love she still has for her sister, Eva will have to choose: Isa’s death or her own.
My Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)
Many thanks to the publisher, Penguin, for giving me a free ARC at Yallwest.
This book, and its fantasy world, was absolutely incredible! Right away, the cover with these two badass girls facing off drew me in, and reading about the premise of two sisters battling to death for the throne had me absolutely hooked so that I knew I had to read this book as soon as possible! And it absolutely did not disappoint!
I absolutely loved the world building in this novel. The author has set up such a complex, detailed, and incredible fantasy world. There are four races: humans, bloodkin, fey, and the mysterious and dangerous khimer. They all have different characteristics and magicks, and I loved seeing them fleshed out, particularly the khimer who remain mysterious through most of the book, and seeing the way they interacted with and had biases towards each other.
A significant section of the book revolves around the main character, Eva, learning her magick of blood and marrow. I loved seeing her gradually learn about it, particularly as it is a bit morally grey. The only other person known to have this power led a rebellion for power, killed thousands, and started the tradition that will dictate Eva’s life of sisters fighting to death for the throne. Eva has always thought this power is inherently bad, but if she has any chance in surviving and learning about herself, she has to learn to embrace it for all the good or bad it might be.
The history and mythology set up for this world is amazing too! I loved hearing the mythical origin stories for the different species, and seeing the battles that led to the current queendom that Eva lives in. It’s definitely pretty dark, so that appeals to my messed up soul lmao. Also, I just love the idea of a queendom instead of a kingdom!!
I loved Eva as a character! Her emotions and struggles felt authentic and relatable–well, as relatable as any princess doomed to battle her sister can be haha. I loved seeing her grow into and learn about her power, which she’d initially been so against. I also loved seeing her compassion for others, including other species such as the highly discriminated against khimer, and the good she wanted to change in the world if she managed to become queen.
I enjoyed seeing the dynamic between her and her sister and mother as well. They seem so against her, so determined to make her life miserable before just ending it, and I enjoyed seeing the backstory of how Eva and her sister used to be before learning they would be pitted against each other. The ending was shocking and I’m excited to see how that will continue to affect them!
There were a lot of other characters that I was less attached to. The romance was okay, but I didn’t love it, and it felt really shoehorned in there just for the sake of having a romantic subplot, without the author actually dedicating enough time or pages to the love interest to get me invested in him. I enjoyed seeing Eva’s interactions with her mentor/teacher figure as well, but I wish we could have spent more time with him. She also had a best friend/guard character featured in the first chapter that I thought was going to be a major character/important, but then he kind of disappeared, and then reappeared, and then disappeared, and overall I was like what’s your deal dude why do you exist.
There were also a few things that I found to be slightly unrealistic, or just there as plot devices. For example, after sixteen years of no luck, Eva suddenly finds a mentor figure right, about a month, before she needs to use her power. And after then, she’s able to progress so fast that after just a few weeks and a couple of lessons, she may be able to take on her sister, who has had practice for like ten years or something with her power. Overall though, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading the next one!