Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope
About the Book
Publisher: St. Martins Press | Release Date: May 1, 2018 | Pages: 372
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy | Format: eARC | Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.
Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and it’s people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.
Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.
The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.
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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 overburdening 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 view as they together try to save their country before it is too late.
The world-building 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 of what the world looks like. While the description of the physical world left much more open to interpretation, the backstory and mythology are vast. Each chapter begins with a brief folktale reminiscent of 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 was explained a little better, especially how it is practiced and cultivated.
I really enjoyed this book, and I look forward to reading the next book in the series.
Content Warnings: attempted rape, racism, war
Thank you to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me this ARC in exchange for my honest review.