Author: Sally Mitchell
Pages: kindle edition 269
Published by Troubador Publishing Ltd in 2016.
Vita Dulcas is found abandoned as a baby filled with enough snake venom to kill many grown men, but she survives. The empire she is born into is the last remaining on Earth, Mendacia, and is governed by an evil Emperor and his hoard of demon slaves.
The citizens believe it is a divine curse, which leaves their skies a blazing red and traps them in a desert land cut off by a molten river, but Vita sees the emperor’s tale of divine retribution for human sin as a lie. If only she could make the others see.
However, Vita is as inconsequential in the empire as a grain of sand, or at least she was, until she had to fend
for her life. In the space of a few days, Vita’s life is turned upside down and she learns she has more power than she could possibly imagine and that the city is based on a web of deceit.
I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
“It was a relentless and self-destructive ritual, yet Minerva lived for hope. One day the saviour would return to the lands and rid them of the demon plague. She just needed to find a way. Maybe tonight.” -first few lines of the prologue.
I started this book earlier this month, after having something of a reading slump, and I must say that this didn’t really make me want to come out of it.
Maybe it was because of my state of being, the not really wanting to read anything state, but this book didn’t quite do it for me. Be warned, this may be more of a rant than I would’ve liked.
Lets start at the beginning.
To start on a positive note: the prologue was actually quite interesting. It introduced a character, there was action, there was blood, magic and a lot of drama. As a reader, it gave me an insight as to what/who the demons were that the blurb was talking about. I probably should have seen it coming, but the character who was introduced in the prologue (being Minerva) was actually not at all that present in the rest of the book (she only appeared again later on, for a short time).
However, aside from being interesting, the prologue already introduced one of the issues that I have with this book. You see, the title and the cover promise a book that appears to be some sort of alternate history of the Christian story of creation, it wasn’t. It was filled with Roman terms and names (hint: Minerva), and instead of bringing some sort of devil being as an antagonist, there was more something of a godlike figure.
After the prologue, Vita Dulcas is introduced (and her little brother… who is not at all that important, but was just there because… drama?). She now lives at the palace that looks something like this?:
(picture found on Flickr on the account of Fink Angel, this is Fishbourne Roman Palace)
Is it just me? Or did the whole Roman-like setting just feel a little odd? I mean, when I think of a palace in such a desertlike place, surrounded by lava rivers with demons crawling through the city, it usually brings to mind a more non-Roman setting.
Anyhow, she lives at the palace because of a favour that the emperor owed Vita’s father (the one who raised her after she was found in the cave full of snakes).
From the moment that Vita is introduced, a whole lot of other characters are brought to light (not all as important of course, nor do they all seem to really have a purpose next to causing drama in the book, and causing me to be confused). Suddenly the normal time line is interrupted by a past time line, this happens more as the story unfolds.
Most of the descriptions concerning the land, certain events or people were well done, clear and created a picture in my mind. Since I like detail, that is definitely a plus. However, even though I do like detail and descriptions and stuff, there has to be a purpose and sometimes that purpose was missing. I mean that I like to know how the people lived in Mendacia and that it was probably under not the most comfortable circumstances, but make it have a purpose and don’t just add it in the story without any use. It’s like saying something at random like; I like apples, during a discussion that is about airplanes.
The writing, and style, was not entirely to my liking. Sometimes it was all over the place, first talking about one person and than another, adding useless information and seeming to lack structure, there was no real direction in which the story was headed. Not only were there different time-lines, there were also memories that complicated the reading. At times, it wasn’t clear if it was happening now, or in a memory/other time line. There was also a lot of hopping around between point of views, that was really annoying to me in the end.
Under this paragraph in my review I also want to talk about the character development or lack thereof, because in this case that is part of the writing rather than a separate point.
I’ll give one example that made me quite unhappy while reading this (read: throwing hands in the air with a lot of cursing). I will not go through this in a lot of detail, but here it is:
Vita has a certain opinion of a certain someone, she has had that opinion for quite some time now and actually tries to hate that person. Again, this has been her opinion for I guess years. Then, suddenly, someone mentions to her that she has been quite a insufferable broad, and she completely changes her mind?! Like: Oh, now that you mention it, you’re right! I should be more nice to that person!
This just didn’t work for me.
There wasn’t any real character development in this story. Yes, some characters figured out some things about themselves, but in the end there was no change/grow or anything like that. They all just went down the same road until the end, except for the sudden change Vita went through… which was probably needed to keep the story interesting.
For me, this book is a typical example of a book that has so much potential, but failed to deliver. It would have been so much better if the book had been what the title promised, or if the story had actually been well worked out.
There were some interesting parts, an here and there there was a bit of humour, but it wasn’t enough for me to truly enjoy this book. I give this book 1.5 stars.