Serena knows a few simple things. She will always be owned by a warlock. She will never have freedom. She will always do what her warlock wishes, regardless of how inane, frivolous, or cruel it is. And if she doesn’t follow the rules, she will be tarnished. Spelled to be bald, inked, and barren for the rest of her life—worth less than the shadow she casts.
Then her ownership is won by a barbarian from another country. With the uncertainty that comes from belonging to a new warlock, Serena questions if being tarnished is really worse than being owned by a barbarian, and tempts fate by breaking the rules. When he looks the other way instead of punishing her, she discovers a new world. The more she ventures into the forbidden, the more she learns of love and a freedom just out of reach. Serena longs for both. But in a society where women are only ever property, hoping for more could be deadly.
So who can she trust?
I received an ecopy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.
I was a little unsure about reading this at first. Not because I thought I wouldn't like it, but because of what it's about. The book takes place in a world where guys, who are all warlocks, are in control and see women as possessions and little more than baby makers for more warlocks. I always have a hard time with books that feature women treated this way. I almost always give them high ratings, but they always make me so angry that people could treat others this way, especially when I realize that in history, things like this were not uncommon.
Thankfully, while this book did make me angry, I did end up liking this as much as I expected. The world-building in this book was fabulously made. The world is horrible, but it was painted so vividly that you can imagine the horribleness so clearly. This book has so much more to the world than how the women are treated as property. It's a major point, yes, but there are many other things that make up the world. One major aspect that pops up is the tarnished, who are low-class and used as unpaid servants. They are all either men without magic (they become tarnished as a toddler) or women who are being punished for pretty much anything. They are all balb and tattooed and they must live like this their entire life.
See, the book is like a mix of fantasy and dystopian. I already explained most of the dystopian, but this book also takes place in a fantasy-like world. Most of the fantasy aspect are the warlocks and the magic but there are also numerous countries that give off the vibe. One country, the one that Senera's people considered barbarians (which is very funny) is very similar to modern day and most importantly: the women are free. We never get to see this country, but you do hear a lot about it.
Now, Senera is such a brilliant character. She follows the rules, for the most part, and it did frustrate me how hard it was to get her out of the idea that she would be punished for every little thing (though, I do understand). But she always believes that what's happening to the women and the tarnished is wrong and I see her and a strong character because of that. She also is very loving and protective towards her sisters, which she has a lot of. She is a great character overall.
I wish I could say more about the book, but it's probably better if you read it yourself. The only issue I had with the book was that it was slow at times, but that's not too bad.
Overall, a really great read! The world-building is amazing and the main character is great! If you enjoy dystopian books with hints of fantasy, try this one out!
Meaning: It was amazing!