Genre: YA, Fantasy
Series: She Who Rides the Storm #1
Publication: September 21, 2021 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.
Long ago, shapeshifting monsters ruled the Commonwealth using blasphemous magic that fed on the souls of their subjects. Now, hundreds of years later, a new tomb has been uncovered, and despite the legends that disturbing a shapeshifter’s final resting place will wake them once again, the Warlord is determined to dig it up.
But it isn’t just the Warlord who means to brave the traps and pitfalls guarding the crypt.
A healer obsessed with tracking down the man who murdered her twin brother.
A runaway member of the Warlord’s Devoted order, haunted by his sister’s ghost.
A snotty archaeologist bent on finding the cure to his magical wasting disease.
A girl desperate to escape the cloistered life she didn’t choose.
All four are out to steal the same cursed sword rumored to be at the very bottom of the tomb. But of course, some treasures should never see the light of day, and some secrets are best left buried…
I haven’t heard much about She Who Rides the Storm. What initially caught my attention was the gorgeous cover of a mysterious ethereal being. And boy, am I glad to say that this book did not disappoint. The story and the writing within were just as enchanting as the exterior cover.
For those that don’t know, She Who Rides the Storm is a whopper of a book at almost 600 pages. To say I was intimidated is an understatement. It’s been awhile since I’ve read a long high fantasy novel. However within the first couple of pages I was captivated and invested. Hook, line and sinker. I was so engrossed with the story and the characters that reading this book felt effortless. There was never a dull moment with plenty of action, witty dialogue and heartfelt moments.
In the land of Chaol,the world is divided amongst The Commonwealth, The Devoted and a remnant of Basists. The Devoted are those blessed with powers gifted by the Goddess Calsta and Basists are natural born healers/witches. The book is centered around four young adults, two devoted and two basists as they all try to find the legendary sword of The Shapeshifter King.
I really enjoyed the world building and magic system. It had a complexity to it while still being straightforward and easy to understand. I found the history between Devoted and Basist fascinating, the bond and centuries old feud; and despite old age prejudice amongst the two group we found our two main leads working in tandem together.
I absolutely love Anwei and Knox, they perfectly complemented each other. Their relationship started off shaky and more like a business arrangement. As long as Anwei helped hide Knox from the Warlord, he will help her with her side business. It was easy to see their relationship over the course of the book, going from business to possibly more. Even when they had lingering distrust of one another, Anwei and Knox wouldn’t hesitate to drop everything if the other person was in trouble, even if it was at the cost of their own life. The heart and chemistry was all there, but I’ve never encountered a character relationship like theirs before. It was unique. Sure it had a hint of enemies to lover vibe, but again not the typical kind we see. It all felt effortless, a natural progression, and growth of two people getting to know each other. It was not the usual whiplash, instant, or hate/lust attraction. Let’s normalize this type of enemy to lover trope…I’m here for it!
Mateo and Lia were also another great pair of leads and very different yet similar to Anwei and Knox. Their encounter began with a marriage arrangement but again not the typical arrangements we see. I loved their bickering and banter as they both try to find alternative solutions to their predicaments. Like Anwei and Knox, as the two spent more time together and better understood each other; they grew from annoyed acquaintances to at least friends(things got complicated in the end but I still holding out hope!). I truly appreciate these natural flow of relationship. It wasn’t rushed and felt realistic which was a nice change to see.
She Who Rides the Storm hits all the high notes for me. Great world building, character driven, solid plot, well written,and well-developed fleshed out characters worth rooting for; all combined to create a unique and refreshing new series starter that I can’t wait to read more of. I am seriously surprised that there isn’t more noise and buzz about She Who Rides the Storm, this is the type of novel that should be at the top of everyone’s most anticipated list! It’s definitely a hidden gem in the world saturated with YA Fantasy. In my opinion She Who Rides the Storm blows most out of the water and most fantasy novels or sequels have nothing on this book. By far one of the best novels I read this year and it deserve every accolades and blurb its garner thus far. I highly highly recommend She Who Rides the Storm…you may come for the heist but you’ll stay for the characters.