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Extasia by Claire Legrand – ARC Review!

Her name is unimportant.

All you must know is that today she will become one of the four saints of Haven. The elders will mark her and place the red hood on her head. With her sisters, she will stand against the evil power that lives beneath the black mountain–an evil which has already killed nine of her village’s men.

She will tell no one of the white-eyed beasts that follow her. Or the faceless gray women tall as houses. Or the girls she saw kissing in the elm grove.

Today she will be a saint of Haven. She will rid her family of her mother’s shame at last and save her people from destruction. She is not afraid. Are you?

I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review and can confirm all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Her name is unimportant, for in a few days time she will be renamed as one of the four Saints of Haven. There to protect and serve the people who live in her village, no matter the cost to herself. But she knows something is wrong, strange animals are following her, grey faceless women keep appearing and she saw two of her sister Saints doing something forbidden. But she is determined to ignore all that, she needs to become a Saint to rid her family from the shame of her mothers actions and save her people from the Devil. But the devil isn’t what it seems, and before long she will have a decision to make, a decision between saving Haven, or watching it burn to the ground.

Amity, for that is the Saint name she is given, is someone who has constantly struggled in life. After her mother disgraced and cursed her family she has had to be the model women in her town, never stepping out of line, desperate to show she is still suitable to become a saint. You can’t help but feel for and empathise with her, growing up in a town where women are second class citizens, told that in the world that was it was the taint and evilness of women who destroyed the world and God created Haven for the choice few who deserved to live. She almost has a kind of stockholm syndrome, constantly told that her sex is inferior, that her urges will bring the devil, that she is unclean. Her journey is a long and a sometimes backwards one, but Legrand ensures that it’s epic.

Every single character in this book is important, be it to further the story, or to get you to empathise with our MC. Some are filled with hate, some are filled with vengeance, fury, self-righteousness, hatred and fear, but Legrand makes sure that no single one goes to waste in the telling of her story. There’s a lot about the characters in this story that I loved, but I can’t talk about because it would be filled with spoilers, but suffice to say if you like your characters complicated, filled with hate and a thirst for vengeance, characters you will love and characters you will hate with every fibre of your being, well look no further.

It’s funny how the premise for this book starts off with ‘her name is unimportant’ because in this book names have a massive impact on the story. I can’t mention to much without giving away spoilers, but at one part of the book the characters are given the chance to choose their own names and they really spell out how the rest of the book will go for them. I’ve never really read a book where names are used as a kind of foreshadowing, but there was a certain part in this book where it just clicked and I realised just what a magnificent job the author had done with them.

I will admit, it took me a little while to get into this book. The first 25% or so was a little preachy, I struggled to bond with Amity because of her blind belief in the religion and beliefs of the people of Haven, but the more you read, the darker it gets, and let me tell you, this book gets dark. It becomes easier to understand how Amity could just go along with all the things she was being told, but everyone has a breaking point and once she reaches her’s the book just absolutely takes off. It’s brutal and creepy and thanks to Legrand’s descriptive writing, you get transported to Haven and you find yourself filled with rage and demanding justice for these people who have been lied to their whole lives.

Their are two main f/f relationships in this book that play a rather large part, but Legrand mainly focuses on sisterhood as a whole. After what these women have been put through it’s understandable for them to want to work together, for them to bond. I don’t want you to think this is a man-hating book, though their are a lot of men, and you hate most of them, there are a few who become allies to Amity’s cause, who realise that Haven has become twisted and dark and wrong, and who want to atone for their sins.

This is a story that was made for today’s society. At a time when women are under the spotlight so much more, when our liberties are being taken from us by men who see us as lesser. It’s a book filled with rage, brutality, and it’s not hard to envision this as a possible future, no matter how scary that may seem. I can understand it not being a book that everyone will love, but it does have some valuable lessons in it, that are as valid in our world as they are in Amity’s. I loved everything about this book, even the shocking and brutal parts, and will definitely be checking out the authors other works.

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