Generations of twin goddesses have long ruled Aeon. But seventeen years ago, one sister’s betrayal defied an ancient prophecy and split their world in two. The planet ceased to spin, and a Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in perpetual night, the other scorched by an unrelenting sun.
While one sister rules Aranth—a frozen city surrounded by a storm-wracked sea —her twin inhabits the sand-locked Golden City. Each goddess has raised a daughter, and each keeps her own secrets about her sister’s betrayal.
But when shadowy forces begin to call their daughters, Odessa and Haidee, back to the site of the Breaking, the two young goddesses —along with a powerful healer from Aranth, and a mouthy desert scavenger —set out on separate journeys across treacherous wastelands, desperate to heal their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.
Warnings: mentions of abuse and harassment by superiors, death of pet-like animal
Chupeco’s new post-apocalyptic fantasy brings to us a world stops spinning due to a magical catastrophe, and the two parts of the world are separated by a chasm that divides them. Both halves have one ruling goddess, with one daughter whom they each have kept secluded in their respective cities. Now grown, both girls want to fix the world, or at least begin to understand how it got broken in the first place, and they each set out on a journey to the chasm. Odessa from the night side steals onto an exploratory mission led by her crush, and lover, Tianlan, while Haidee from the day side meets a nomadic boy, Arjun, from outside her Golden City, to guide her across the sand sea. On the way, both teams of people have to face the dangers of the terrain, as well as the magical monsters and demons that arose from the cataclysm.
This book imagines a whole new world, with a novel magic system, and how those magics are used for people’s survival in the extreme conditions on either side of the world. I loved the thought put into explaining how they would survive, as well as the different kind of wildlife that populates this changed world. However, right until the end, I can’t say I wholly understand how the magic system works, and it was pretty much confusing in the start, where it is just all said as if we already knew about it? I would say like a solid first third of the book, I was like – I don’t get any of this but I sure do hope it makes some sense later. Then there’s also the fact that the sisters’ betrayals are conflicting, so you don’t know what exactly happened to break the world in the first place, and even during the book, it only leads us up to a certain point in the backstory of the goddesses and their rituals.
The individual arcs of the twins, and the concurrent PoV of Tianlan and Arjun make for nice alternating perspectives of their journey. It hits plot beats quite well, has a good pace, and is a scary adventure, keeping us engaged and the two romances are cute, too! Also, they have the same pair type – one princess-goddess paired with a gruff personality with troubled past. I loved Arjun’s and Haidee’s bickering leading to a nice enemies-to-lovers romance, with some adorable tropes thrown in; Odessa trying to seduce Tianlan through tips from romance novels was cute and hilarious! Odessa’s slow changes as she get further into her journey and Tianlan’s rising anxiety about her and the Abyss were well-written arcs. I did have one thing to grouch about regarding the characters, though – there wasn’t enough physical descriptions or even indications of ages of several secondary characters.
Overall, I loved this introduction to a new series, and am definitely looking forward to the next, but the start jumps too fast without giving us enough information.
Is it diverse? asian and middle-eastern coded fantasy, with largely PoC characters; queer rep with sapphic romance and bisexual character; disabled (amputee) south asian character; character with PTSD (panic attacks, hallucinations) who is receiving therapy
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Harper Teen, via Edelweiss.
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Releases on October 15, 2019