Saturday 20 November 2021

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Blog Tour Review: Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier (#Ad)

Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier

I was sent this review copy for free by Hodder & Stoughton for the purposes of providing an honest review.

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Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier

Published: 9th November 2021 | Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton | Source: Publisher
Makiia Lucier’s Website

The past never forgets...

Before an ambush by enemy soldiers, Lord Cassia was an engineer's apprentice on a mission entrusted by the king. But when plague sweeps over the land, leaving countless dead and devastating the kingdom, even Cas’ title cannot save him from a rotting prison cell and a merciless sickness.

Three years later, Cas wants only to return to his home in the mountains and forget past horrors. But home is not what he remembers. His castle has become a refuge for the royal court. And they have brought their enemies with them.

When an assassin targets those closest to the queen, Cas is drawn into a search for a killer… one that leads him to form an unexpected bond with a brilliant young historian named Lena. Cas and Lena soon realize that who is behind the attacks is far less important than why. They must look to the past, following the trail of a terrible secret—one that could threaten the kingdom’s newfound peace and plunge it back into war.
From The Goodreads.

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When I first heard of Year of the Reaper by Makiia Lucier, I was immediately intrigued by the premise. A lord who was a prisoner of war, the royal court at his home, an assassin killing off the Queen's loved ones - I was excited about the possibility of this story. However, I finished with mixed feelings.

I was gripped by Cas' story from the very beginning. I was intrigued by the world he lived in; a world only just post-war, with a princess of the enemy now the King's wife and Queen - a marriage to bring about peace; those who still feel uneasy about a foreign queen, including Cas; and a world coping with he aftereffects of plague, and the heavy blanket of grief for all those who have died. Having been a prisoner for three years, Cas has now returned, and sees everything has changed in his absence. Grief, war, and sickness have affected those he was closest too, and having returned after all thought him dead, everyone is relieved, but his relationships are different now. The people he knows and loves are changed - and so is he. I thought the relationship dynamics were really well done, and loved to see Cas finding his feet amongst people he doesn't quite know anymore.

Then there is an assassination attempt on Prince Ventillas, the King and Queen's young baby and heir to the throne, and things get super interesting. Especially, when the attacks on those closest to the Queen don't stop there. Who is behind the attacks? Why do they want to kill these people? Why hurt the Queen, but not kill her? What's the motivation? A return to war? Is the assassin one of their own or of the former enemy? It's a proper mystery, and one Cas takes it on himself to investigate. Something just doesn't sit right with him, and there are questions that aren't answered.

I loved the relationship between Cas and Lena, the historian and the King’s sister, as they work together trying to figure out what happened that could possibly make sense of the current attacks. Their's is a cute, slow burn romance, but a sweet subplot running alongside the mystery. I loved them both individually, honestly, they were just great characters. But the mystery was what kept me turning the pages. And when the huge, massive twist that I absolutely didn't see coming was revealed, I was completely floored! I was so excited by this turn of events, and what this would mean for all of the characters involved.

I think it's clear that I enjoyed Year of the Reaper, but as I was reading, I was always expecting more. Why? Because it looks and sounds like and adult high fantasy, but it feels more like YA. That's not to say the author has written down to teens, not at all. But in my experience, there's a difference between adult and YA high fantasy. Adult has elaborate world building, intricate magic systems, more often than not with court/political intrigue, and, in the case of war, maybe even strategic war councils, whereas YA will focus on maybe a couple and leave the rest. As it's not marketed as YA, I was expecting the former, but got what felt like the latter.

We have no idea why the two countries were previously at war. There's a small cast of major characters, and so court or political intrigue is minimal. We learn very little about the world as a whole, mostly only hearing about Cas' home. There is no magic system; since contracting the plague during his time as a prisoner, Cas can now see ghosts. We never find out why, and only occasionally does this fact matter to the plot of the story. And despite the assassinations, there's never any hint of preparation for the fall out. The investigation is actually very small. With the length of the book, at just over 330 pages, before the twist was revealed I was expecting there to be a sequel. There's got to be consequences, there's got to be ramifications; someone is targeting the foreign queen, surely when her people find out about it, crap is going to hit the fan! And even when the twist is revealed, there are still questions about what this could mean. But this is a standalone, and it never really goes beyond the investigation and the effects on the small group of characters. In the great scheme of things, not a huge amount actually happens. I did enjoy the story, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't quite disappointed.

Year of the Reaper is a quick, enjoyable read, but one that isn't too complex, or a great deal of depth. Other people have really loved this story, so do check out other reviews before deciding whether or not to pick it up. You can do so by checking out the other stops on the blog tour for Year of the Reaper.

Year of the Reaper Blog Tour Banner

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton for the review copy.

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