Song of Blood & Stone is the first book in the fantasy trilogy Earthsinger Chronicles. Its sequels are Whispers of Shadow & Flame and Cry of Metal & Bone.
This fantasy novel had a bad case of bookish identity crisis: it seemed to have no idea of where it was going, what it was doing or what it was trying to be.
This book read as a cute, tropey fantasy romance with cheesy surprise royals, but at the same time it had mythological components and a 1920s-inspired setting, and also tried to be gritty because I guess nothing is serious if it isn’t graphic. These are good ideas, if you do not try to make all of them work inside the same story.
Song of Blood & Stone is a romance-heavy fantasy, and you shouldn’t go into it expecting much adventure, but at the same time I can’t recommend it as a light romantic book.
I don’t think your story with cliché royalty tropes and the most fake-feeling military ever should also try to be ~gritty dark fantasy~; choose a tone and stick to it, and if you choose “serious”, then go all the way and get rid of the cheesy tropes.
I’m also deeply uncomfortable with the idea of marketing this book as adult/YA crossover when its sexual assault scene is more graphic than the average adult military sci-fi. That scene felt like it was there just for shock value, which is the worst idea when your book is also trying to be a sweet, tropey romance (with historical aspects just for the aesthetics).
It’s not even good as a romance. Straight royalty drama is rarely interesting to me because I’ve read too much of it, and this was mostly fine, but the sex scenes ruined everything. They were graphic, which I don’t have a problem with, but nothing kills tension as quickly as badly-written sex scenes.
I read an ARC, and I hope the parts in which the male character is “whispering his lips across her aromatic skin” or sex is described as “the invasion of her body” (what are you, a bacterium?) do not make it to the final copy.
I did actually like some parts of this: the magical and mythological aspects were interesting if underdeveloped, and so were the themes. This book has a biracial protagonist and revolves around what it means to be in an interracial relationship when you live in a racist world, which I haven’t seen often; there’s also a side f/f couple.
My rating: ★★