Publication date: January 22, 2019
Sora can move as silently as a ghost and hurl throwing stars with lethal accuracy. Her gemina, Daemon, can win any physical fight blindfolded and with an arm tied behind his back. They are apprentice warriors of the Society of Taigas—marked by the gods to be trained in magic and the fighting arts to protect the kingdom of Kichona.
As their graduation approaches, Sora and Daemon look forward to proving themselves worthy of belonging to the elite group—but in a kingdom free of violence since the Blood Rift Rebellion many years ago, it’s been difficult to make their mark. So when Sora and Daemon encounter a strange camp of mysterious soldiers while on a standard scouting mission, they decide the only thing to do to help their kingdom is to infiltrate the group.Taking this risk will change Sora’s life forever—and lead her on a mission of deception that may fool everyone she’s ever loved.
Thank you to Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review
CW: graphic violence, genocide, suicide (through hypnosis)
I’M A JUMBLED MESS OF EMOTIONS. SEND HELP.
• This book really had the potential for greatness but it fell flat on more aspects than one. First of all, it was slow-paced. The first part of the book was just the main characters doing almost nothing that affected the course of the story—doing an exhibition performance, patrolling a peaceful town without anything interesting happening except for a petty fistfight and well, climbing trees.
• Things picked up when they discovered that the Prince who tried to kill the current empress was alive and kicking, with plans of his own that included offering innocent lives to a greedy god. However, the momentum wasn’t maintained due to the bland writing and the completely uninteresting dialogue. By this point, I was almost halfway through the story but I still felt zero connection to the characters. In fact, I felt more bonded to three unassuming potatoes than the main characters of this book. This was disappointing because Sora really had a good personality but the juvenile dialogue did nothing to develop her character. And Daemon? Well, I have SOME things to say about him but we’ll get to that later.
• I also found the magic system unconvincing. The taigas—these are god-blessed people tasked to protect Kichona—have powers to mimic animal abilities by chanting mudras or spells which, quite frankly, do not sound magical at all (they sound completely bland, like most of the dialogue here). Meanwhile, the villain, Prince Gin discovered a system of magic a hundred notches more advanced than the taigas’. The magical army at his disposal—called ryuu—have the power to manipulate things using some floating green particles that they could only see if Prince Gin gives them the Sight. Ugh it makes me cringe just thinking about it. There was also next to no explanation in the book on how this advanced magic came to be except for a cock-and-bull story of divine intervention, which, for me was not enough.
• There were also predictable points in the book. I could’ve guessed Daemon’s heritage with my seven eyes closed. Speaking of Daemon, I’m also annoyed with the dude because he’s a confused ball of scorched fur. One minute he was head-over-heels smitten with Sora but then he appeared to forget those feelings when he suddenly kissed another girl. I MEAN, WHAT IN THE NINE HELLS??? I know many ships don’t work out but in this book, it wasn’t even well-established that his feelings for Sora even faded. It was like he was, “Oh there’s another girl here who actually likes me. I should kiss her! I don’t even have feelings for Sora now even though I obviously had them thirty seconds ago!”
It was infuriating, folks. I was so angry I incinerated the pillow beside me.
(I don’t know if we’ll have the same feelings when you get to read the book though. I tend to be so sensitive when it comes to these things.)
• Nevertheless, I still didn’t give this book a low rating because the second half actually got better. The pacing became thrilling and I actually started to FEEL something which was a huge improvement from my almost non-existent emotions while reading the book’s first half. I also loved the feudal Japan elements.
• Moreover, I’m actually looking forward to this book’s sequel because I want to know how things will play out in the next book. This may have been a bit of a disappointing read but I’m hoping that the sequel is going to be better because just like what I said earlier, this series really has a lot of potential.
Is Circle of Shadows in your TBR? Do you get angry when your bookish ships don’t work out? Tell me your thoughts below!