Princess of Souls by Alexandra Christo

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Confined within the forbidding towers of a castle on the Floating Mountain, Selestra Somniatis has been preparing to take the role of her mother, who is seated next to King Seryth, the immortal king himself. Selestra is tied to a destiny which will inevitably be hers: the honor of being the Somniatis Witch, who is tied by blood to capture souls for the invincible king of the Six Isles. By holding the ability to foretell the deaths of those participating in the Festival of Predictions, the Somniatis Witch is feared by most citizens. Escaping death in the Festival means your soul is saved and you have earned King Seryth’s immortality, however, getting caught in the clutches of death will lead to the loss of your soul. Despite their best attempts, no one has ever managed to outrun their eventual fate and beat death. As Selestra practices to make her first prediction, Nox Laederic, a soldier in King Seryth’s army and a participant in the Festival, nurtures a desire for revenge. He wishes to steal the King’s immortality, and have the entirety of his court perish, including Selestra herself. However, when Selestra is faced with her first prediction, that of Nox, she witnesses her death alongside him, causing herself to become endangered within her only home. Nox and Selestra, along with their faithful friends Irenya and Micah, enter a conflicted partnership to flee from their cloudy fate and bring freedom to the Six Isles by breaking the hold King Seryth has on it.

Selestra’s life is illustrated as one devoid of freedom and liberty, while Nox drives the story by expressing his yearning for revenge. I personally enjoyed their character growth from mistrust to trust towards each other and the encouragement exchanged between them. Moreover, the journey Selestra took to understand more of herself and the mysterious history of her family was very intriguing and ultimately allowed me to view her character in a different perspective. The possibility of death looming on the horizon led the book to be full of action, thrill, and adventure while bringing heart-warming themes to light. The plot was overall promising and engaging, yet while the characters the author brought to life were captivating, I wish I was able to see more of the backstory behind the characters of Micah and Irenya, who were less transparent in the novel. The exciting premise of the story drew me in, and I enjoyed it! I recommend this book to enthusiasts of fantasy and thriller novels!

A memorable aspect of this story was the themes which were hidden throughout it, relating to the characters. The primary theme of this novel was the concept of ‘found family’, as Selestra was able to find a loving group of friends which she treasured. Irenya, Micah, and most importantly, Nox, thoroughly supported her in her ventures and stood by her side, willing to sacrifice what was necessary throughout the story. I loved the dynamics between each of the characters, and understanding their relationship to each other highly enhanced my understanding of the theme, making the story more memorable!

Review by Shreya S., Twin Hickory Area Library

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