Book #1 in Archives of the Invisible Sword
Published by Harlequin Australia (17th June 2019)
My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Harlequin Australia, and the author via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
In a world where the sun becomes unlivable at certain points in the day, the cities reside underground. One such city is that of Zirdai, where Shyla a researcher who is known as sun-kissed lives. The sun-kissed are rare because when they are infants, they are left out in the desert at the killing point in order to be returned to the Sun Goddess, Shyla was lucky, she was rescued by the monks and raised in the monastery. Now she makes her living researching locations of buried temples and ruins and their artifacts for her friend Banqui, and whoever else will hire her of course. One such job changed Shyla’s world forever when the artifacts that Banqui was tasked to find by the Water Prince, go missing. Now the Prince thinks that Shyla has them. Hiring her to find the real culprits, Shyla must race against the clock to find out who really took the Eyes of Tamburah, clear her name, survive the Heliacal Priestess (who wants to sacrifice her to the Sun) and prevent herself from ending up in one of the Water Princes ‘special rooms’ (read torture chambers) all the while, realising that maybe one of the Prince’s guards isn’t as bad as he seems. Oh! And don’t forget about the possible existence of a mythical sect of thieves. All in a days work for your run of the mill, sun kissed researcher…
I’ve had this one sitting on my Netgalley TBR list for a while now, and since I’m trying to whittle it down to something manageable I’ve been slowly working through them all. This one honest sat for so long because I found the length of it a bit daunting but getting down to the dregs, if I might say, I was interested to see if this one lived up to Snyder’s Study series, which I adore. I did find that I enjoyed this story, but I didn’t feel as invested in it as I did with the Study series.
The world building is rich and vibrant and everything I’ve come to expect from Snyder. I can feel the heat, and the sand and the grittiness of the life that the people live in this world. The Water Prince is frightening and the Heliacal Priestess is just downright terrifying. I felt the desperation and the need of Zirdai’s people for freedom. At times the story had a way of making you feel hopeless and claustrophobic which is fantastic, it really puts you right in the middle of the story itself. Surprisingly, for it’s length, the pacing was great and I never felt like the story was lagging at all, I got through it a lot quicker than I thought I would. The story made you want to know what craziness was going to happen next, and how on Earth Shyla was going to get out of it this time.
The characters were well written, and I actually thought the love interest was going to be someone different at first. While in the beginning of the romance I felt that it was a bit forced and possibly not needed, as the story progressed the romance became an absolutely wonderful addition to the adventure story and really added an extra layer of attachment to these characters. I found Shyla relatable and incredibly likable and I really adored Rendor’s (I think that’s how you spell it haha) character as well. He was such a brute, yet had such a massive heart and I just loved how his character was written. I think it’s safe to say that Snyder has an ability to write characters that come across as these hulking monsters who end up having hearts of gold. He reminded me of Valek from the Study series.
The mystery itself was well thought out and even though we’re not privy to the point behind possessing the Eyes in the beginning, as soon as we are I had picked what the reveal was going to be, but that’s okay, getting to that point was all a mystery for me because all the characters were fair game and you didn’t know who was going to live or die on the journey.
One thing that kind of irked me a bit was that I had a lot of trouble wrapping my head around the time concept in the story. There’s cycles, and angles and sun jumps and I found each time one was mentioned I spent a few seconds working out which one it corresponded to. I think that sun jumps are a day, angles are minutes, and cycles are years? But I’m not 100% sure and I just felt like having to think that much about the time terminologies in a story was kind of a waste. I want to focus on the story not so much the little quirks that the author has put in to make it specific to that world. I’m probably the only person on the planet who had an issue with it, but it’s one of the reason my rating is lower, so I wanted to talk about it.
While I found the story enjoyable and the characters great, I just didn’t feel emotionally invested in the story itself. I did care what happened to some of the characters, but it just didn’t hit me the way that the Study series did. I feel like I may have ruined it a bit for myself by expecting something as amazing as the previous series, when I really should have gone in with fresh eyes and not compared it to anything else. So that’s on me.
All in all, Snyder is a master at her craft, and she always manages to build rich, vibrant worlds, full of enticing characters who are full of flaws and massive hearts. If you enjoy Snyder’s other works, give this one a go, but go in with fresh eyes and don’t compare!
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