They say the thirst of blood is like a madness – they must sate it. Even with their own kin.
On the eve of her divining, the day she’ll discover her fate, seventeen-year-old Lil and her twin sister Kizzy are captured and enslaved by the cruel Boyar Valcar, taken far away from their beloved traveller community.
Forced to work in the harsh and unwelcoming castle kitchens, Lil is comforted when she meets Mira, a fellow slave who she feels drawn to in a way she doesn’t understand. But she also learns about the Dragon, a mysterious and terrifying figure of myth and legend who takes girls as gifts.
They may not have had their divining day, but the girls will still discover their fate.
This book was not what I expected going in, but that did not make me love it any less. A truly intoxicating fantasy book that delves into the world of medieval Romania. With an F/F romance arc, and sweeping feminist voice this is a must read for any fantasy fan.
Kizzy and Lil are twins, though they couldnt be less alike. Kizzy the brash and headstrong beauty, and Lil quiet and shy with the voice of a nightingale. On the eve of their divining day their camp is set upon by Boyars men, with only a few of the children surviving long enough to be kidnapped. Once they arrive at the castle, Kizzy and Lil are set aside to be serving girls, aware that the Boyar likes ‘rare commodities.’ But Kizzy’s beauty is tantamount to a death sentence, and when a neighbouring Boyar sets his sights on her, the twins are dragged apart in the night. Neither aware of the journey the other takes, until they are re-united and it is too late.
This isn’t a re-telling so much as a prequel. A chance to learn about the brides of Dracula, the human lives they lived, and loved ones they left behind. Though I expected this story to focus more on their time of being brides, I was swept away following Kizzy and Lil’s journey. The author manages to transport you to medieval Romania with relative ease. You get to feel the beauty of life as a traveller, even with the slurs that come along with it. Her descriptions are both beautiful and horrific, and you feel emotions so real that you become a part of the story yourself.
The story is told from the perspective of Lil. The quieter sister, always in Kizzy’s shadow. Which is generally how she likes it. You don’t come to understand Lil’s true power and potential until she gets separated from her sister. Her unwillingness to believe the worst until it is right in front of her face would seem naive to some, however I saw it as her greatest strength. Never willing to give up on those she loves, and eventually becoming a vampyr to stay by her sisters side. Lil’s story is both heartwarming and heartbreaking and as an older sister to two siblings, I couldn’t help but feel for her, having to make choices that would end up breaking her heart, but knowing it was the only way to keep her family safe.
The romance in this book is truly bittersweet. My only minus point was that it seemed a bit rushed, however I still got swept away in the sweetness of it all. Lil doesn’t really realise herself until later in the book, not knowing why she feels drawn to this quite and reserved maid. Until their paths are at a fork, and she realises that she doesn’t want them to go separate ways. With the main romance being f/f and the other being the love between sisters, you can see why this is described as a feminist novel. Neither sister needs a man to save them, and in fact it is the men that bring about their eventual Vampyrism.
I loved this book, but there were parts that I felt dragged a little bit. And though I understand it to be a pre-story about the lives of the brides of Dracula before they turned, I felt that we needed a bit more storyline at the end. Explaning more of their lives, it simply felt a bit rushed to me. That being said, it didnt take away from my overall enjoyment, and I can see this being a book that sticks with me long after I’ve finished it. 4*