Tuesday, 1 October 2019

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Review: Crier's War by Nina Varela

Crier's War by Nina Varela Blog Tour Banner

Crier's War by Nina Varela

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Crier's War by Nina Varela

Published: 1st October 2019 | Publisher: HarperTeen | Cover Designer: David Curtis and Erin Fitzsimmons | Source: Publisher/Afire Pages via Edelweiss
ISBN: 0062823965 | Pages: 448 | Age Category & Genre: Young Adult Fantasy, Romance
Nina Varela's Website

From debut author Nina Varela comes the first book in an Own Voices, richly imagined epic fantasy about an impossible love between two girls—one human, one Made—whose romance could be the beginning of a revolution.

Perfect for fans of Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse as well as Game of Thrones and Westworld.

After the War of Kinds ravaged the kingdom of Rabu, the Automae, designed to be the playthings of royals, usurped their owners’ estates and bent the human race to their will.Now Ayla, a human servant rising in the ranks at the House of the Sovereign, dreams of avenging her family’s death…by killing the sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier.

Crier was Made to be beautiful, flawless, and to carry on her father’s legacy. But that was before her betrothal to the enigmatic Scyre Kinok, before she discovered her father isn’t the benevolent king she once admired, and most importantly, before she met Ayla.

Now, with growing human unrest across the land, pressures from a foreign queen, and an evil new leader on the rise, Crier and Ayla find there may be only one path to love: war.
From Goodreads.

Amazon | Barnes and NobleBook Depository | Wordery | Goodreads

I received this eProof for free by HarpeerTeen in conjunction with Adire Pages via Edelweiss for the purposes of providing an honest review.

Rep: Lesbian protagonists, f/f, everyone has brown skin.


I've wanted to read Crier's War by Nina Varela ever since I read Shri of Sun and Chai's review, so when Karina of Afire Pages announced sign ups for the blog tour, I signed up so fast. I was bloody ecstatic to be accepted, but even more so now: Crier's War is absolutely incredible!

Crier's War is a mix of high fantasy meets sci-fi (or fantasci); the world and politics is recognisably high fantasy, but it's a story where humans have created automae - sentient, living, breathing, robots with more alchemy and less metal, except their not robots - and those automae revolted and are now the ruling Kind, with humans being oppressed. The story is told from the perspectives of an automae and a human. Crier, the Sovereign, Hesod's daughter, is a curious, naive, but well meaning young woman who lives a life of privilege. She is eager to learn, is fascinated by humans, and an idealist who believes she can bring about change so humans aren't so ill-treated. She is betrothed to Scyre Kinok, a former Watcher of the Iron Heart - the mine where the rock automae need to consume is extracted - who is the leader of Anti-Reliance Movement, as oppossed to Traditionalism - following certain aspects of how humans lived before automae - which Hesod values. Ayla, is a human who has lost everyone she cared about in an automae raid when she was 9, who saw the murdered bodies of her family. She was taken in by Rowan, a leader in the human rebellion, but has no faith that the rebellion will lead anywhere except more human death. She is rage and vengeance, determined to make the Hesod hurt like she hurts, by murdering his daughter.

Crier's War is so compelling, and I was so captivated by the story. The world building is incredible; the history of the world, the politics, the power plays! It's so completely engrossing. And then you have Crier and Ayla's relationship. Crier is a servant of the palace, but when she saves Crier's life (for reasons even she can't explain), Crier makes Ayla her handmaiden. As handmaiden, not only is she a lot closer to Crier, which will help her carry out her revenge, but she now has access to information that would be invaluable to the rebellion - preventing her from killing Crier right now. Ayla's lack of deference intrigues Crier, and she finally has someone she's able to ask about humans. Initially, I desperately wanted to read this story for the f/f relationship that develops between Crier and Ayla, craving their moments together and seeing how they somewhat thaw and soften - or well, in regards to Ayla; Crier is already pretty soft, but it's also adorable to see her curiosity grow into something more, as she becomes drawn to Ayla. But it's a definite slow burn romance. A pretty face and some well-intentioned if clumsy kindness isn't enough for Ayla to forget the past, her rage, her desire for revenge. And Ayla is a human, and there are certain ways automae - especially the daughter of the Sovereign - is expected to behave, and getting attached to humans is a complete no-no. So while they're cute and complicated - and beautiful and hopeful and heartbreaking! - I did find myself more and more drawn to the wider plot of the story.

And I can't talk too much about it without giving too much away, but my god, it's so clever! Crier's War is not only a really engaging story, with a fantastic world and brilliant politics (I am a sucker for high fantasy politics), it's also so well plotted. It does kind of feel like the story takes a while to truly begin, but it's only later that you realise small things that happen earlier on have much greater meaning later, and it's just amazing! All those things you overlook! It's just brilliant! And the different forces at play! Hesod, Kinok, the human rebellion, and even Queen Junn of the independant automae state of Marn. Everyone has their own goals, their own motivations, their own schemes. There are so many layers to this story, and it's complex and intricate, and completely wonderful!

I love how diverse this book is, yet also mirrors - to my mind - our own history. As far as I can remember, everyone in this book, both human and automae, have brown skin of various shades. And homophobia simply doesn't exist. There are a number of couples referenced in the book, highlighting that this is not a world that has any kind of issue surrounding same sex relationships. However, the world is obviously not perfect. Humans have been overpowered, the automae are in charge, and they are ruling how they see fit. Before the automae were in charge, everything was chaos, but see how the humans flourish under automae rule? But they are not flourishing. They're worked to the bone, they are poor, they are starving. And people are killed for the smallest infraction. And it just reminded me a lot of our history of white people oppressing people of colour, and how they "thrived" once white people made them civilised. It's just so very familiar. And there's also the fact that Hesod is misogynistic. The Red Council who he governs with may feature women, and seems quite positive in that respect, but the way he treats his daughter is disgusting. He expects an "obedient" daughter. Her intelligent ideas and thoughts on progress, on how automae and humans could live peacefully, are rejected and dismissed as the ideas of the young and naive. She is used as a pawn in a marriage alliance to a man who's political ideals clash with his own, to give Kinok some power and hope that will turn him away from ARM, but also to keep his enemies close. Kinok is a terrifying villain, but Hesod isn't much better. Crier's War shines a light on these injustices and makes you face them.

And then there's that ending! Such a cliffhanger! I turned the page expecting more, but instead I got the most beautiful acknowlegments I think I've ever read. But the story just ended, and left me reeling! Iliterally gasped when I turned the page and there was no more. "Wait, what?! What is she going to do?!" It's one of the most unfair but most epic cliffhangers! So many questions! Things are going to get really explosive in book 2, and I am dying for it! Crier's War is an undeniably stunning debut novel, and I absolutely cannot wait for what Varela gives us in future - in and out of the Crier's War universe.

Thank you to HarperTeen and Afire Pages via Edelweiss for the eProof.

Nina Varela
Nina Varela

Nina Varela is a nationally awarded writer of screenplays and short fiction. She was born in New Orleans and raised on a hippie commune in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent most of her childhood playing in the Eno River, building faerie houses from moss and bark, and running barefoot through the woods. These days, Nina lives in Los Angeles with her writing partner and their tiny, ill-behaved dog. She tends to write stories about hard-won love and young people toppling the monarchy/patriarchy/whatever-archy. On a related note, she’s queer. On a less related note, she has strong feelings about hushpuppies and loves a good jambalaya. CRIER’S WAR is her first novel. You can find Nina at any given coffee shop in the greater Los Angeles area, or at www.ninavarela.com

Giveaway:

There is a giveaway hosted by Karina of Afire Pages, to win a copy of Crier's War! The giveaway is open internationally until 23rd October, so head over to the Rafflecopter giveaway to enter.

Check out the other stops in the blog tour:

WEEK 1

Sept. 23 – Afire Pages | 21 Questions with Nina Varela
Sept. 24 – The Sparrow’s Perch | Fan Art
F A N N A | Reasons for Game of Thrones and Westworld Fans to Read Crier’s War
Sept. 25 – Forever and Everly
Your Tita Kate | Bookstagram Photos
Sept. 26 – Lori’s Bookshelf Reads
Pages Left Unread | Characters Aesthetics
Sept. 27 – Caitlin Althea
Pages Below the Vaulted Sky | Fan Art
Sept. 28 – Lauren’s Bookshelf
Reads Rainbow | Playlist

WEEK 2

Sept. 30 – Boricua Reads | Sapphic Rebellious Women in YA
Read With Ngoc
Oct. 1 – Once Upon A Bookcase
Read at Night | Favorite Quotes
Oct. 2 – Mel to the Any
A Cat, A Book, and A Cup of Tea
Oct. 3 – Novel Nerd Faction | Playlist
Shut Up, Shealea
Oct. 4 – Sage Shelves | F/F Fantasy Recommendation
The Book Bratz

You might also like:

A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna In the Vanishers' Palace by Aliette de Bodard Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

Over to you graphic
What do you think of fantasy books that hold up a mirror to our own past? What fantasci YA novels have you loved? Or YA high fantasies heavy on the political intrigue? Have you read any YA featuring robots/automatons? Will you be reading Crier's War? Let me know in the comments!

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