So, I promised E. Kaiser a review a while back, and I know I'm late on it, but here it is. I just finished this, so I'm writing the review while I'm fresh.
This has a nice, complex (but not too confusing), storyworld. It took me a little while to get a grip on the political situation, but that's probably because I tend to commit the sin of skimming. (I know; it's horrible. Shoot me if you must.) The lack of magic is refreshing, and this story doesn't need it to raise the stakes or add tension.
I like Fia. She's a good character. I like how she's not one of those typical "kick butt" heroines that seem so popular right now. She's had propriety drilled into her head, but she still struggles with it and her slightly more reckless side peeks out on occasion (and gets her into the trouble that makes up the
inciting incident). I would have liked the POV a bit deeper; to have been able to see underneath the manners a bit more. Her character's there, it's just not tapped into completely.
Ilido is awesome. I really like him, and I like his secret. That's a wonderful plot twist that I didn't see coming. I think he might be my newest character crush. He's just so cool. (Honestly, I'd kind of like to see if Fia and Ilido work out as a couple. I know they don't really know each other well enough for that yet, but I can dream, can't I?)
I really like everyone at the Olayin house. I love how intricate their past is; they aren't made up on the spot. Each character has scars, grudges, and stories.
The plot is solid, and has a few good twists in there. The end surprised me; as in, it came sooner than I expected. Or maybe I just got sucked in. Or both. ;)
Awesome writing style, and something I envy. It might have just been me getting used to it, but the style seemed to get much less flowery after the first few chapters. Flowery is great, but it doesn't lend itself to quick reading in big pieces. I tend to have to stop and digest after a ridiculously small amount.
Loved it. Can't wait to get a chance to read the second one. I hope we get to know Fia a bit better. Overall, I give this ... 4.5 stars, because I'm indecisive that way. :P Read it if you love a good, clean, magic-free fantasy.