Recommended Age: 14+
Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
Tags: Drama, Magic, Ghosts, Religion
- Moderate violence: Physical attacks, murder, maiming, possession, self harm.
As a nun, Artemisia only knows how to care for dead bodies. She has no idea how to interact with the living. When she suddenly becomes the vespertine and shares a mind with an ancient revenant, she struggles to control the power without losing herself. All she knows is how to take care of people and put their souls to rest. She has no training and no idea how to manage a relic, but she needs its abilities to fight the rising evil in her home. As she and the revenant work together to defend humanity against a greater evil, Artemisia questions her faith and everything she’s been taught about right and wrong.
Artemisia is such a pandemic protagonist. She doesn’t like being near people, and hates been stared at or touched. She would rather be alone than deal with crowds, and is painfully socially awkward. She is perfectly comfortable with herself when she’s alone, or with a dead body, but can’t figure out how to interact with the living. In this sense, the appearance of the revenant is perfect. He may be living inside her head, but without a body of his own he isn’t quite alive. Even though she’s been taught that revenants are evil and spirits are tormented, she can’t help but warm up to the sassy voice in her head who can give her power when she needs it but doesn’t try to force his power over her. I think it’s hilarious that Artemisia is so shy she can’t make a friend until someone possesses her. That is social anxiety at its finest, and adds both empathy and ironic humor to this character.
There are several twists in this book that show the author taking opposites and forcing them together. It’s a fun way to create tension in the story and add twists and turns that feel natural. What if a nun became possessed by a demon? What if someone socially awkward suddenly had a sassy voice in their head? What if two people who have spent years hating and avoiding each other were forced to team up in an unfamiliar situation? This plot is very well done and I’m not surprised it’s leading into the author’s first duology.
If you like magic and demons, this book is for you. If you read Wicked Saints by Emily Duncan and want something else with a bloody magical nun vibe, this is a great choice. And if you are (heaven forbid) tired of romance, this book doesn’t have a single kiss. It has an introspective protagonist who absorbs and processes the world around her like a frazzled alien intent on learning what it means to be human. And it has some really cool action scenes and spooky catacombs.
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