The story revolves around two main central characters Adraa and Jatin, who had an arranged marriage set up from a young age. The two main plot points of the story are about how these two characters fall in love and the various political and economic stances that their nations have. One of these was how the invention of firelight, an invention made by Adraa which impacted the people, affected the economies in other nations. The setting takes place in the fictional world of Wickery, which has five countries, each having its system behind the hierarchy. Most of the cultural aspects of the various nations in the story seem to come from India. However, some of the slang used also seems slightly based on British English. The story also has an intricate magic system which is a big part of the plot and the setting.
The main thing that drew me to the book at first was the magic system. To that aspect, I feel that the story did not disappoint. However, one of the main things that I disliked was the writing style. The premise is very cliché, and the story isn’t helpful by having the first hundred chapters be a slow burn. The story involves a contract marriage between the two main characters. I hated this since it was a generic arranged marriage setup, which meant that the two characters hated each other. Not to mention, it lasted around 100 chapters. The resolution to this issue involved the usage of another cliché of falling in love in one glance. I also heavily disliked how this book made the word “blood” into a profane word. The usage of the word “blood” seemed to be in places where it could have been using the phrase “bloody he**”, but since it’s not written in that way, the dialogue with that word feels abrupt and not complete. At first, I thought that it was due to a cultural influence and the author wanting to keep the profanity down for a younger audience. However, the author also uses other words of the same type. This confused me on whom the target audience was supposed to be or if it was just a generic misprint. However, I don’t think it was a misprint due to it happening frequently, and I disliked that a lot. It was one of the many reasons why I disliked Riya, a supporting character. I feel that can hinder a reader’s experience when they read this novel. Speaking of characters, I don’t particularly like or dislike the main characters. I enjoy the portions of world-building that are shown through them, but when the characters interact with others it comes off as cheesy. Other times, the story comes across as if those two characters were the only characters present in the story. The other characters felt one-dimensional and felt as if they were only existing to serve as a plot point for the two main characters. For example, at the end of the first on-screen fight scene, the interaction between Riya and Adraa felt very dry. It almost felt as if Riya was making Adraa into a Mary Sue type character.
For me, one of the memorable things in the book was the conflict between Adraa and Basu. This incident occurred around 50 pages into the book, and it was the scene that kept me invested in the book and prevented me from dropping the book. It was fast-paced, and the magic in the conflict was also something that I enjoyed seeing.
Reviewed by Srinivasan, Twin Hickory Library