I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I’m going to be completely honest here: there are two main reasons I requested this book. The first reason is the cover is absolutely gorgeous! Charlie Bowater is incredibly talented! The second reason was the whole concept of two unwilling participants in a politically arranged marriage accidentally meeting while using secret identities and working together. This book did not disappoint!
As children, Adraa and Jatin met for the first time as their parents planned to have them marry when they were older. The meeting was short and did not end well. They go several years without seeing each other, communicating only through letters that were used for their ongoing competition. However, the two eventually meet again, but they are completely unaware of the true identity of the other. When underground criminal activity threatens to harm their kingdoms, the two are forced to team up. The corruption and danger run even deeper than they expected and their lives are continually put in danger. The only way to survive and figure everything out is to trust each other—which is not easy when they both are lying about who they really are.
The premise of this book was very interesting. I loved the world-building, and the magic system was so intricate and fascinating. There were times where the action was lacking which left me somewhat bored. Fortunately, the whole last half of the book picked up speed! I loved the banter between Adraa and Jatin as well as the way they fought together. Their complicated relationship was quite amusing! The ending left me wanting more, so I’m looking forward to seeing how things play out in the sequel!
A few more things I’ll acknowledge: first of all, this is part enemies-to-lovers and part insta-love. It’s complicated. I know some people aren’t fans of insta-love so I thought I should mention it. Second, the chapter titles are great! I feel like chapter titles are underrated these days, but I thoroughly enjoyed the use of them in this book! This was an interesting YA fantasy read—make sure to grab a copy!