Published by BHC Press
Due for Publication on the 19th September 2019
Book #1 in The Magicians of Venice series
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, BHC Press, and the author via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Actual rating of 3.5
Penelope Bryne is an academic, she’s been researching, searching and absolutely in love with Atlantis for as long as she can remember. However, after finding a section of tablet of the coast of Crete, her career took a nose dive. A lot of people think she has her head in the clouds and should seek to find something a bit more down to Earth to throw herself into, her Dad is one of them. But when she is called by Marco, a police officer in Venice, and shown some pictures of script from a recent, horrific crime scene, Penelope can’t help but follow it to Venice. She knows that it has something to do with Atlantis, she’s seen the writing before, on her stone tablet, what she doesn’t know is how someone else knows enough of it to use it in such an awful way. While in Venice Penelope is thrown into an investigation unlike any other, she meets some extremely interesting people, one of which is called Alexi, a man with many talents, and many secrets. If she makes it through this, she may come out the other side completely changed, but first, she has to make it through.
I’m a sucker for a good murder mystery, and one that has it’s roots in evil, demon worshipping cults just gets my goat every time. It just adds that bit of spice that I really love in my mysteries. What I wasn’t really expecting was that the mystery and the ritualistic killings weren’t so much going to be in the forefront of this story, they very much took a backseat while the mysteries of Atlantis and the strange man that Penelope has met, are definitely the front runner here. It wasn’t a bad thing exactly, but I was just a little unprepared for it. I was expecting a gritty mystery into ritualistic murders that somehow tied into the history, mythology and existence of Atlantis, what I got was more a fantasy/Sci-Fi romance with a sprinkling of ritualistic murder thrown in to help drive the story forward. Without the murders there wouldn’t have been a plausible reason for anything that happened in the story, so it was incredibly important as it was the catalyst that drove the plot forward, I just wish the blurb was able to describe it this way instead of making me think I was in for something totally different than what I got.
The story was well thought out, the ritualistic killings tied beautifully into the overall plot that was happening here. Kuivalainen has a way with words, with lovely flowing descriptions that show instead of tell. The story lines were incredibly well thought out in all accounts and blended seamlessly to create a world full of mystery, intrigue, wonder and romance against one of the most romantic backdrops in the world, Venice. It painted a picture of a city that I already want to visit, but now even more so, especially during Carnivale 😉
The characters were very well written each with a distinct personality and identity. I really enjoyed the character of Penelope Bryne, an academic with a fantastic mind who doesn’t baulk at the first sign of ‘difference’ she encounters. I’m going to try and be as vague as I possibly can here because the story really took a turn into a place that I totally wasn’t expecting to go, and I think it’s better to go into this without knowing it at all. The other characters that we meet are incredibly alluring in there personalities and quirks. I really enjoyed the chemistry and bickering between Aelia and Phaidros, they were probably my favourite characters followed by Nereus.
The palazzo that we encounter is almost like a character in itself. The way that it’s never really described as such yet you have such a clear picture in your mind about it is just brilliant, a stroke of genius. I love the sentience of it and it was probably my most favourite thing about this novel.
One thing that I did have a little bit of a problem with, was the pacing. This book, according to Goodreads, sits at a length of 324 pages. It felt SO much longer than that. I wouldn’t have been surprised to find out that this was pushing close to 500 with how long it seemed. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot happening, but it just seemed like it was taking me so long to get through it. It dragged a little in the beginning but I’m glad that I stuck with it, because by the end I was pleasantly surprised with how everything turned out, and I’m ecstatic to find out that this is book one it what I hope is a trilogy at least. I believe that the story has been left open as a larger scale plot has been left unresolved, but the story definitely wrapped up at the end, I was so worried when I saw the percentage getting closer and closer to 100 and things hadn’t been resolved yet, even though I knew what was going to happen, I still needed to see it happen haha.
All in all, this was an interesting take on the legend of Atlantis and I absolutely LOVE where Kuivalainen went with it. I cannot WAIT until book 2 and I sincerely hope it’s not far away.
If you love a fantasy romance that is peppered with mystery, give this one a go, if you find you’re struggling at the beginning, just push through, you won’t be disappointed.