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This is a powerful book that sucks you in its first page. Song of Blood & Stone is really well written and delves into very important topics of race, privilege, power, corruption, and a refugee crisis without over burdening the fantasy story.
Song of Blood & Stone is set in a fantasy mountain region where two enemy countries border one another. The people of Lagrimar have dark skin and magic, whereas those that live in Elsira are fair skinned and without magic. The Mantle is a magical and invisible wall that separates these two lands, erected five hundred years prior and keeps (for the most part) the people with Earthsong on the Lagrimar side and those without on the Elsira side. There have been breaches in the past which resulted in war and a limited number of Lagrimari stay in refugee camps in Elsira; but the refugees are not well regarded. They are judged by the color of their skin and feared due to their place of origin.
Jasminda is an orphan living in the mountainous and isolated area near the Mantle in Elsira. She lives an isolated life because she does not find a lot of kindness due to the color of her skin: her mother was Elsiran and her father Lagrimari. Jack is a soldier that went behind enemy lines to gain vital information to save his country but nearly dies. Their paths cross by happenstance and Jasminda heals him with her Song. The book is told through their alternating points of views as they together try to save their country before it is too late.
The worldbuilding develops both all at once and slowly. The reader is thrust right into this world, but at first I was incredibly confused. Even after the end of this amazing book I do not really have much of a mental picture what the world looks like. While the description of the physical world left much more open to interpretation, the backstory and mythology is vast. Each chapter begins with a brief folktale reminiscent to Aesop’s Fables, which I LOVED, and through dreams the reader gains a better understanding of how the world got to its present state. I really enjoyed this method of storytelling and its pacing was good.
I adored the characters and their budding romance. Jasminda and Jack are both well developed, haunted by guilt but strong in the face of it. Jack also witnesses the way that Jasminda is treated and begins to use his privilege. The only thing is that the circumstances of their romance seemed a little… fairy tale? I don’t know, they just started making googly eyes at each other and longing to touch them without much of an internal dialog to lead up to it? It felt a bit sudden and forward for them to be overly affectionate with one another. But barring the circumstances of how the romance budded, I am here for it!
Magic is called the Earthsong, and it appears to be both the manipulation of the Earth as well as oneself. It can heal, it can change one’s appearance. I wish that this were explained a little better, especially how it is practiced and cultivated.
cw: attempted rape, racism, war
I really enjoyed this book, and look forward to reading the next book in the series.
Thank you to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me this ARC in exchange for my honest review. Song of Blood & Stone is available NOW!!! Header image provided by the publisher for use in advertisement. You can find information about my rating criteria here.