Genres: fantasy, Romance
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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.
The women of Chaldonia know only one thing. They are possessions. Their only good is the amount of magic in their blood and how many children they can produce, preferably male. For their society is one run and controlled by men, but not just any men, warlocks.
For Serena, it’s all beginning. As she turned 17, her father had her blood tested and she was purchased within a week. Purchased by a man who was up and coming in society and was sure to do great things. However, that was not to be. Dying in a duel at a tournament, her ownership passes to the one who defeated her owner. She is now the property of an Envadi barbarian.
Written in first person, the reader is given an insight into Serena’s life. Though there are a few things that could throw a reader.
One is the lack of detail. The women in this world are encouraged to not ask questions, and to stand and sit with their eyes downcast. With that said, there isn’t much description of the world. No great detail about the homes, buildings, or even tournament grounds. As I have a fairly vivid imagination, the lack of detail didn’t bother me. Writers often take the gamble of how much description to use and Janeal Falor obviously decided to use less. The only place that changes is in the clothing. In this world though, it makes sense the women would pay more attention to clothing than anything else around them. It’s the only thing they have a little control over. Where and how they live is not. Though I did find it odd that shoes were never mentioned, at least not that I can recall.
Serena almost constantly worries about being punished. It’s an ongoing theme throughout most of the book. However, when that’s all she’s known for the past 17 years, and she knows nothing about the Envadi, it makes sense that she’d believe they were as bad, if not worse, than her countrymen.
Also, as women are not trained in the use of magic, there is no true description of the magic system. There are colors and the results, but nothing more.
There were a few other things I was more concerned about. One was why didn’t we get to know Zade more? I know it was because Serena didn’t know much about him and was too worried to find out more. But I still wish I could have known more about him. Though it was nice that they didn’t fall in love at first sight. It took time for Serena to begin to trust him and that’s just as it should be.
Hopefully I didn’t scare anyone off from reading the book…. I enjoy books where I’m allowed to let my imagination wander and fill in the gaps. I find it makes for an almost interactive story. I’m allowed to imagine what things look like with the author lightly applying a few strokes of color along the way to guide me.