*I received a copy of this book on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: Song of the Forever Rains
Author: E.J. Mellow
Publication Date: July 1, 2021
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The Thief Kingdom is a place hidden within the world of Aadlior. Many whisper of its existence, but few have found this place, where magic and pleasure abound. There, the mysterious Thief King reigns supreme with the help of the Mousai, a trio of revered and feared sorceresses. Larkyra Bassette may be the youngest of the Mousai, but when she sings her voice has the power to slay monsters. When it’s discovered the Duke of Lachlan is siphoning a poisonous drug from the Thief Kingdom and using it to abuse his tenants, Larkyra is offered her first solo mission to stop the duke. Eager to prove herself, Larkyra accepts by posing as the duke’s potential bride. But her plans grow complicated when she finds herself drawn to Lord Darius Mekenna, Lachlan’s rightful heir. Larkyra and Darius must learn to trust each other if there is to be any hope of saving the people of Lachlan—and themselves.
This is my first encounter with E.J. Mellow and I’m surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. The first in a new fantasy romance series, it’s full of mystery, deception, betrayal, magic, and so much more. The Thief Kingdom is hidden in the realm of Aadlior. Lark, our protagonist, and her family, play an influential role in both worlds, ruling with power, strength, and class. Lark is coming of age and she is set to complete her first solo mission, ultimately freeing some of her people from a corrupt and drug-addled duke. And of course, she finds her true love along the way.
I’ll start with my criticism: the synopsis of this book makes it seem like magic, and the Mousai sorceresses are much more dominant within the plot than they are really portrayed to be. We see a lot more of the Bassette sisters, who have a bit of magic, than we do the Mousai. I don’t think the Mousai’s strength as rulers of the Thief Kingdom is accurately or strongly portrayed. Because of this, the magic throughout both worlds seems a bit more random than it truly should. The magic, as portrayed in the synopsis, is clearly a driving and controlling force, but that doesn’t come across as well in the text.
Otherwise though, this book was engaging, fast-paced, and exciting. Mellow is an incredible and vivid world builder. It was so easy to imagine the worlds of Aadlior and the Thief Kingdom. There are some tough topics that are covered, including physical/psychological abuse and addiction, and we see that magic can’t fix everything. But there is also a lot of love and compassion throughout this story. The characters are very realistically portrayed. They make mistakes and find ways to right the wrongs.
If anyone is looking for a new fantasy romance series to get into this summer, this is the one. I’m not normally a lover of this genre, but I was pleasantly surprised to be so immersed in this new story so quickly. And it’s the first in a series, so there’s something to look forward to when you finish.