Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope
A treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers.
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.
Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope
Series: Earthsinger Chronicles #1
Published by: St. Martin's Press
Release Date: May 1st, 2018
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy Romance
Pages: Hardcover, 384 pages
Rating: 3/5 Stars
SONG OF BLOOD & STONE by L. Penelope is the first book in the YA fantasy romance series, the Earthsinger Chronicles. This is a story of two outcasts, from opposing nations on the brink of war, who find love but duty threatens to tear them apart. Woven into the story is a lush mythology of magic based on song, the treachery of prejudiced societies in conflict and the strength one finds in owning your own destiny. Mature scenes make this an upper teen read.
The fact that this is a fantasy romance with magic based on song and music immediately grabbed my attention. The cover is gorgeous and I loved its representation of a diverse heroine.
The setting is more difficult to describe as it feels like a mix of genres and time periods. Airships and four-wheeled vehicles mix in with an alternate-dystopian terrain where magic is real but feared. At times it was confusing and I never really got a good grasp for it. I would have liked more world-building details to fill in the gaps.
One of my favorite aspects of the story is the vivid mythology created in SONG OF BLOOD & STONE. This is revealed and parsed out throughout the story, along with chapter headings based on folktales that I found fascinating. A world of Singers and Silents. Magics and no-magics. It is beautifully done; I only wished more of it could have been revealed sooner without any spoils for the overall plot.
The story itself feels much like two plots converging and the book two halves of it. The basis for Elsira and Lagamiri's separation and conflict, along with the concept of the Earthsong magic, are combined with the current growing tensions between these two nations and the ominous rumor of the True Father's (the villain) rising and The Queen Who Sleeps return. Add to this political intrigue and social commentary and you have quite a mix.
The protagonist Jasminda has a warrior's heart. She is kind and strong, with a sharp mind for details. Because of the color of her skin and her affinity for magic, she suffers abuse and prejudice at every turn, yet, she remains compassionate but is not afraid to fight when needed.
Jack is a perfect balance to Jasminda's character, maybe too perfect. The romance is strong and fast between the two and I wished there was more buildup. Heroic, Jack is easy to like with few flaws. I needed more grit from him but I did love the way he was fiercely devoted to Jasminda, torn between duty and love.
In the End
Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope ended being a compelling read with lush mythology, touches of magic, intrigue, and a passionate romance. I enjoyed the story and would recommend it to those readers looking for a lighter fantasy.